New members of the Brentwood board of education were sworn in Tuesday night to a standing ovation and raucous applause from a crowd of around 80 that packed one room of the Anthony F. Felicio Administration Building.
Incumbent Gail Kirkham and challengers Ana Martinez and Keith Allison, who ran as a slate, defeated incumbent Stephen E. Coleman, Harold A. Allen and Michael Houlihan in May’s election, running on a platform seeking change and diversity for the district’s school board.
After the swearing in, Trustee Helen Moss was elevated to president of the board by a 5-2 vote, with Trustee George Talley and Trustee Lorraine Pace opposed.
Shortly after, newcomer Martinez was elected first vice president by a 7-0 vote, and Trustee Michael Jahkhah was elected second vice president by the same margin.
Despite several minutes of back-and-forth arguing between Moss and Talley over whether a request for proposals should have been sent out before choosing the district’s attorney for 2012-13, many residents said the meeting was more subdued than they had expected.
After the meeting, Brentwood resident Elizabeth Cordero said Tuesday was a historic day for the community. Cordero said the new board members kept their promises — the meeting agenda included explanations about each decision item.
For the first time, Spanish language interpretation was made available to board attendees by Sandra Gil, who handed out headphones to Spanish speakers and quietly interpreted to them in the back of the room.
“We’re starting fresh,” said Cordero, who has five children in the district. “Everything is being done so professionally, everything is being done by the books. There are people that truthfully have the children’s best interest at heart.”