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At the end of Monday evening’s meeting of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education, members elected Sergio Hernandez as the next president of the school board.
Hernandez will succeed Anya Tanyavutti, who served for two years as the first Black female president for the district, after serving three years as vice president.
On Monday night, Hernandez officially became the school board’s first Latino president, and board members also voted to make current representative Marquise Weatherspoon the new vice president. Weatherspoon will succeed Vice President Biz Lindsay-Ryan.
“It’s not easy work, but it’s something that we all signed up to do, and I know we can continue the incredible work that Anya and Biz have done, as well as Dr. Horton, to really embed equity across the system and across institutions in partnership with our educators, with our administration, with all community stakeholders,” Hernandez said at Monday night’s meeting.
Reflecting on her tenure as the board president, Tanyavutti highlighted some of her proudest accomplishments, including centering equity for all children in the district, approving a new neighborhood school for the Fifth Ward and starting the first redistricting process in more than 50 years.
But she also discussed the challenges of the job, including facing death threats and anti-Black racism.
“This has been a beautiful, and, I’ll be honest, painful journey,” Tanyavutti said. “I have faced monumental levels of anti-Black racism, and we have faced queer antagonism. Every Black person who learns about our heroes knows that being an outspoken Black person comes with threats of death, but I just never imagined that toiling to make decisions that care for everyone would result in the vitriol that we’ve seen.”
She also expressed support for Hernandez and Weatherspoon taking over the board’s leadership roles, and she said that the district is in good hands with them at the helm.
Lindsay-Ryan added that she was grateful to serve alongside Tanyavutti, and she thanked the rest of the board for their support throughout the last several years, especially amid a global pandemic and unprecedented challenges facing K-12 education.
“I am proud that we have indeed been steadfast in being brave and bold on behalf of what’s right for every child, with a prioritization for the most vulnerable,” Tanyavutti said. “I am proud, and I think our children will grow up proud, of the education they’ve received, the friendships that they’ve forged and the high expectations they can have for themselves and others.”