The Arlington County School Board elected a new chairwoman and renewed Superintendent Patrick Murphy's contract through 2016 at an organizational meeting this week.
Emma Violand-Sanchez was named chairwoman Monday following a 4-0 vote that capped several weeks of infighting, according to the Sun Gazette. The division began when past Chairwoman Abby Raphael sought a second consecutive term, which would have gone against tradition and postponed or eliminated the chance of elevating a Latino to a position of leadership — a first for the board.
“I regret that this discussion took on ethnic and racial overtones... This has been difficult for all of us,” Violand-Sanchez told the Arlington Mercury.
Later, in a prepared statement, she said, "Throughout all, our focus must remain on our students. As a Board, we will support our Superintendent, his leadership team, and all APS staff and teachers as they work with the Board through this time of change, to enable them to better serve our children."
Board member Sally Baird abstained. She told the Sun Gazette that her decision was "not personal" and that she was upset that the leadership battle had been made public.
The board also unanimously renewed Murphy's contract through 2016.
“With planning, thorough analysis of data, and laser-like focus on our Strategic Plan goals, we will succeed," Murphy said in a statement. "In the coming year, I will be focusing on providing a strong, supportive and safe environment for our new leadership to grow and develop. I look forward to continuing to partner with the Board to make Arlington the premier place to live and raise families.”
Murphy has been superintendent since July 1, 2009.
He will earn $209,976 annually, according to the Washington Post.