Ernani DeAraujo of East Boston is the sole Latino left on the Boston School Committee after it was announced last week that Lorna Rivera and Alexandra Oliver-Dávila had resigned over revelations that they sent disparaging texts about white residents in West Roxbury during a contentious committee meeting last fall.
Those resignations prompted local Latino leaders to call on Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey to fill the vacant seats with other Latino members, but DeAraujo told GBH News that his focus is on regaining community trust.
"We'll do that through our work, through being impartial, through focusing on the strategic plan that we've already built out," he said. "And you know, that's gonna take time. It's gonna be meeting to meeting, day to day. We're not gonna rebuild that trust overnight, but we need to rebuild it and have families be confident in their school committee, in their government."
The texts from Rivera and Oliver-Dávila came during a contentious meeting on October 21 about a controversial proposal to temporarily forego admissions tests to attend the city's exam schools. The committee ultimately endorsed the proposal, but then-chair Michael Loconto resigned the following day over comments during the meeting in which he appeared to mock the names of Asian-American residents waiting to speak.
Both Rivera and Oliver-Dávila apologized for the texts, in which they expressed disdain for white parents from West Roxbury. DeAraujo didn't comment on them.
Since their departure, Acting Mayor Janey has made it clear she intends to keep Latino representation on the board as community members call for new Latino members to be placed on the committee. According to the latest numbers, over 40 percent of BPS students are categorized as Hispanic.
DeAraujo said he didn't have an opinion on the outside calls to bring in Latinos to fill in the vacant seats. Still, he stressed the need to represent everyone in the community.
"I wouldn't say there needs to be a certain number of Latinos on the committee. But, I think it's important to have those views represented," DeAraujo said. "We make the policy, right? And if the government's not representative, then you run the risk of not treating everyone fairly."
The Boston School Committee Nominating Panel will begin accepting applicants for the vacant seats on Thursday.