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SF school board elects new leaders amid superintendent search

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New board President Shamann Walton, right, speaks with new Vice President Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell before a Board of Education meeting held at the San Francisco Unified School District Administration building on Tuesday. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Board of Education has a fresh set of leaders to guide it as it selects the next superintendent of public schools.

At its first regular meeting of the year, the school board unanimously elected Shamann Walton to serve as president and Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell as vice president.

The decision means Walton and Mendoza-McDonnell, who also serves as education advisor to Mayor Ed Lee, will have key roles as the San Francisco Unified School District chooses a successor to former Superintendent Richard Carranza.

“This is going to be an exciting year,” Walton said at the school board after accepting his new role.

“I will continue to work with everyone to continue to address the achievement gap,” he said. “We will focus on improving the lives of our educators and district personnel.”

Stepping down from his position as board president for the last year, Matt Haney said he is proud to “pass the torch.”

“It’s a great leadership team for a critical time in our district,” Haney said. “These are two folks who have a tremendous amount of experience and commitment and are an ideal pair to lead our district in a search for our next superintendent.”

Haney will be remembered for leading the board at a time when San Francisco educators struggled with an affordability crisis, the superintendent left for a new job in another city and President-elect Donald Trump was elected.

Meanwhile, the first school board meeting of the year also marked a day that students stood up to Trump.

Dozens of people packed the lobby of the district headquarters as rain poured down outside on Franklin Street before the meeting, rallying for a student-authored resolution introduced Tuesday that reaffirms the district’s support for undocumented students.

“We have a new president who has made anti-immigrant rhetoric a central part of his campaign, there are many students and families that are fearful and concerned,” said Haney, who worked on the resolution with Walton and the board’s student delegates Maria Zaragoza and Jessica Eng.

The resolution is meant to address those concerns, outlining support for students including proposed training for school workers and the hiring of an “undocumented student liaison” at every middle and high school in the district.

The resolution is headed to a board committee for review.

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