Fort Wayne Community Schools starts the school year with a new superintendent and, now, a new school board member. Rohli Booker was appointed by the board to fill the 4th District seat vacant since Jordan Lebamoff's sudden death in March.
Booker won the appointment over three other well-qualified candidates, with her status as a South Side High School graduate and parent of current FWCS students giving her the advantage. It's a perspective that will benefit the district, and one that Lebamoff, an unabashed South Side High School supporter, would have appreciated.
In her interview with the board earlier this month, Booker expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the district's gifted programs “that enabled me to experience the world, things I would not have experienced if it had not been for that program.” She said she's interested in addressing transportation issues and classroom overcrowding.
Her appointment reflects new awareness of the need for greater diversity on community boards and commissions. The excuse of a lack of qualified and interested individuals available to serve didn't apply in this case and doesn't apply in others. Booker was one of three Black candidates interviewed for the vacant seat; four women were finalists.
Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine was unsuccessful in urging precinct committee members to appoint a Black woman to Allen County Council this month, but his effort, like the school board's, represents an encouraging new awareness. Other community leaders should follow suit and bring new voices to the community conversation.