July 22, 2021
Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Thursday tapped the executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of Latinos for Education and the head of a parent mentoring program to fill two vacant seats on the Boston School Committee.
The vacancies came after a text-messaging scandal engulfed the School Committee and led to the resignations of Alexandra Oliver-Davila and Lorna Rivera. In text messages leaked to the media after City Hall officials withheld them, the two public officials had taken aim at West Roxbury parents who opposed changes to the admissions policies of the city’s exam schools.
The two newest members of the committee are:
* Rafaela Polanco Garcia, who lives in public housing in South Boston, works for St. Stephen’s Youth Programs as manager of parent organizing and engagement. Polanco Garcia is from the Dominican Republic and came to Boston in 2014. Janey noted that Spanish is her primary language and she had worked on the 2016 “No on 2” campaign against expanding charter schools.
* Lorena Lopera, a Boston College Graduate who started as an organizer for the nonprofit Sociedad Latina, is the executive director of Latinos for Education in Massachusetts. She lives in Jamaica Plain, and has also worked for City Year, Building Excellent Schools and the Posse Foundation.
Both are Boston Public Schools parents.Their names were drawn from a list present to Janey from the Boston School Committee Nominating Panel.
Both took the oath of office with City Clerk Maureen Feeney, with an interpreter joining Polanco Garcia.
Janey said she prioritized filling the vacant seats with members of Boston’s Latinx community, since 40 percent of Boston Public Schools identify as Latino.
“They will both help to fill the pages to this new chapter of equity and opportunity for Boston Public Schools students and families,” Janey said in a statement announcing their appointment.
Their terms run concurrent with Janey’s term in the office of acting mayor. Janey is running for a full four-year term after becoming acting mayor in March.
The next School Committee meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 4.
The citywide preliminary is Sept. 14, and the general election between the final two mayoral candidates is Nov. 2.