The five Mayor Justin Bibb appointed to the Cleveland Metropolitan School district to serve through 2027.
The five Mayor Justin Bibb appointed to the Cleveland Metropolitan School district to serve through 2027. Credit: City of Cleveland

Mayor Justin M. Bibb on Tuesday appointed two new members to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) Board of Education. Bibb also reappointed three members whose terms expire this month. All five will serve four-year terms.

New appointees Robert Briggs and Diana Welch Howell will join the CMSD Board next week.

Sara Elaqad, Leah D. Hudnall, and Denise Link continue as board members and will take on new roles. Bibb announced that Elaqad will take over as chair and Hudnall will serve as vice chair for the board, replacing current chair Anne Bingham and vice chair Robert Heard. Both of them will remain board members until their terms expire in 2025.

Those appointed and re-appointed Tuesday will serve until 2027. Current board members Louise Dempsey and Kathleen Valdez will conclude their terms of service June 30.

The mayor picked these five from 12 applicants nominated by an 11-member board nominating panel.

Read more about the 12 candidates he chose from and how the board member appointment process works.

Who are the new members?

Take a look at the slides below to learn more about each of the 5 members Mayor Bibb appointed, and what they said in their applications for nomination.

Why does the mayor appoint CMSD board members?

The Ohio Legislature passed a law to reorganize the Cleveland schools in 1997. Since then, the nine city school board members have been chosen by the Cleveland mayor, putting Cleveland’s school system ultimately under mayoral control.

Justin Bibb is the fourth mayor (after Michael R. White, Jane Campbell and Frank Jackson) to have this power. The final decisions on these five appointments were up to him.

This new board will also be guiding a new CEO, Warren Morgan, who also officially begins next week, when CEO Eric Gordon leaves office to work at Cuyahoga Community College.

New board must address a world changed by the pandemic

Mayor Bibb said in a statement that a key priority for this new board will be to “address the new challenges and capitalize on the opportunities” that the district faces coming out of the pandemic.

“The board must continue its work to engage deeply with parents and community, ground policy decisions in equity and the aspirations of our kids and families, and diligently seek to expand opportunities for every CMSD student,” he said.

“I’m confident that this board’s unique experience, skill set and capabilities will benefit our students, the leadership of our new CEO Dr. Warren Morgan, and our community,” he said.

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.