June 23, 2012
Members of the Arlington School Board,
The Latino community has been proud and elated in anticipation of the first elected Latino member of the Arlington School Board, Dr. Violand-Sánchez who currently serves as vice-chair, to be elected as the next chair in keeping with the common, long-standing practice for over 50 years. It is with deep concern, however, that the Arlington Latino Network writes to you regarding indications that, for the upcoming decision on July 2, 2012, the Arlington School Board might choose to deviate from this long-standing tradition in electing its chair.
It is our understanding that the current chair, Abby Raphael, intends to seek reelection to this position, and that she is seeking votes of other Board members to continue as chair for the 2012-13 school year. While we know that the vice-chair is not guaranteed to become the next chair, that has clearly been the norm rather than the exception for decades.
We believe that it would be most unfortunate for the Board to deviate from tradition at this time. While there are issues that will carry over from the previous year, this will always be the case. Dr. Emma Violand-Sánchez is more than qualified and capable to lead the School Board, and she has a collaborative style that will allow other members to focus and work on issues of their particular personal interest without compromising continuity. Her bilingual skills and personal knowledge of the Latino experience has brought to the APS Schools Board an unprecedented openness to and understanding of the Latino community. She has personally led efforts to help other board members establish new and important relationships with the Latino community, strengthening the legitimacy of the Board’s representation of the entire Arlington Community.
Minority groups make up a majority of the student enrollment in Arlington Public Schools, and Latinos are the largest minority group with 28 percent of total enrollment. The Latino parent community, which we represent and support, has found a strong and supportive voice in Dr. Violand-Sánchez. She has over 35 years of educational expertise, is the only member of the Board who has a Ed.D., and has a proven record of being a champion for Latino, language minority students with special needs and other minorities who have yet to equally reap benefits from APS’s quality instructional programs. Her proven ability to engage in issues that affect the entire Arlington community and her ability to build bridges are vital to keeping a united community moving forward. Her qualifications and important contributions have been acknowledged by others as demonstrated by her recognition as an Exemplar Virginia Community College Board Member.