School board president Christopher Irving easily held on as president of the Board of Education on Thursday night. Chrystal Cleaves retained her spot as the vice president of the board.
Irving was re-elected in a 7-0-1 vote at the district’s reorganization meeting. Jonathan Hodges, the longest serving member on the board, abstained from the vote. Board member Oshin Castillo was late to the meeting and did not vote.
“I extend a sincere thank you to this board for your confidence and trust in me to continue to lead this board,” said Irving, who was sworn in to a third term on the school board. “We all know in the next year we have a great deal to do relative to the transition from being a state controlled district to a locally controlled district in a process that began long before any of us sat at this dais is coming to an end.”
Irving (pictured) said his goal is to “return the reins and voice of the people back to the people of this city.” The school board has regained control over three of the five functional areas. It regained control over operations in June 2014 and reclaimed control over personnel and fiscal management in February of 2016.
The board is working towards regaining control over governance, curriculum and instruction. The district has been under state control since 1991.
In a bit of inside humor at the reorganization meeting, Hodges nominated Cleaves, a close ally of Irving’s, for vice president.
Cleaves was unanimously re-elected as vice president.
There were no competing nominations for president or vice president representing a favorable power shift for Irving. His coalition now has six votes on the board. Hodges has been weakened with the election loss of his close ally Errol Kerr. There was also the loss of Kenneth Simmons who often did not vote in any alignment.
“There’s obviously a shift in power on the board. When you’re in total power everything that happens that is good will be towards your accommodation, anything that goes wrong you’ll be blamed for it because you are in control,” said former school board member Corey Teague. “Make sure you take the power you have and use it to benefit the children. You will not go wrong as long as you make sure your goal and primary focus are the kids.”