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SF School Board chooses Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell, Stevon Cook as new leaders

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Stevon Cook, left, was named the vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education Tuesday after Hyrda Mendoza-McDowell, right, was unanimously elected president for the 2018-2019 school year. (Laura Waxmann/S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously elected its Vice President Hydra Mendoza-McDonell to replace Shamann Walton as president for the 2018-19 school year.

The seven-member commission, which reconvened for its first meeting of the year on Tuesday, also elected Commissioner Stevon Cook to fill Mendoza-McDonell’s seat.

Walton nominated Mendoza-McDonell, who is serving her third consecutive term on the school board since first winning the city-wide bid in 2006. She in turn nominated Cook, who has served on the school board since 2016.

“[Cook] has proven himself as someone committed and dedicated to young people in our district, as well as teachers and staff,” Mendoza-McDonell said about her nomination.

Without opposition from the commissioners, both were elected by acclamation.

School board commissioners are elected at-large to four year terms, but the role of president changes annually, with a new president elected at the first meeting of the new school year, according to SFUSD spokesperson Gentle Blythe.

Three seats are up for grabs in the November election. Commissioner Emily Murase, whose term is expiring, has announced that she will run for re-election; Mendoza-McDonell is also terming out, but has not yet announced plans to run for another term.

Walton, who was elected to the school board in 2014, is a current candidate in the District 10 supervisorial race and is not seeking re-election to the school board in November. Commissioner Matt Haney, whose term on the school board ends in 2020, is a candidate for supervisor of District 6.

“Now I will go back to being a member-at-large,” Walton said with a smile, while switching seats with Cook.

Calling it an honor to have served as school board president, Walton counted selecting a new superintendent and raising educators’ wages as some of the board’s achievements under his leadership — though Mendoza-McDonnell added substantially to this list.

“In the 2017-2018 school year, we started off with only four vacancies in our classrooms due to the push to have our HR develop an aggressive recruitment and retention plan,” she said. “I know that commissioner Walton pushed really hard to ensure that our HR department was fully funded and supported.”

Under Walton’s leadership, the school board also supported the district and The City’s collaborative effort in “building the first units of housing dedicated to our educators in San Francisco history,” adding that Walton “led the charge on that.”

Along with advocating for more resources for underserved students, Walton also led the board in strengthening its policies for undocumented and immigrant students following the 2016 presidential elections, she said.

As far as tending to his relationships on the school board, Mendoza-McDonnell said, “One of the things he said was one of his biggest accomplishments was getting us coffee.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version.

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