First posted at 12:25 a.m. Last updated at 8:28 a.m.
FRAMINGHAM – For the first-time ever the Framingham School Committee has a woman of color as its chair.
The School Committee elected in an 8-0-1 vote District 5 School Committee member Priscila Sousa to be its next chair. District 7 School Committee member Tiffanie Maskell abstained. She was the vice chair last term.
District 8 School Committee member Jessica Barnhill was elected Vice Chair.
Five years ago when Framingham was still a Town, all 7 of the School Committee members lived north of Route 9.
Today, the chair and the vice chair of the School Committee both live south of Route 135.
The City Charter when it passed in 2017, called for 9 School Committee members, one from each of 9 districts, guaranteeing representation for all part of the community.
Sousa, who was clerk of the School Committee for the last two years, was elevated to chair last night.
Former chair Adam Freudberg, of District 4, was nominated by Maskell for a third term, but he rejected the nomination. Freudberg had been the only chair of the new 9-member School Committee since it was created in 2018.
Sousa, 33, is the likely the youngest chair of the School Committee in the 322-year history of this community. She was elected in November 2019, and sworn in to represent District 5 on January 1, 2020.
She was the youngest elected woman city-wide in the City of Framingham, when she was elected.
Sousa is the first Brazilian-American to be chair of the Framingham School Committee.
She was the first ever Brazilian American elected to the school Committee in 2019.
The School Committee now has as its leader someone who looks like 50% of its students, as a majority of the students in the district are not white. The School Committee also has a leader now who understands the struggles of entering a school district not speaking English, first-hand.
“When I initially ran for the Framingham School Committee … One reason was the wonderful education I received as a young Brazilian coming to Framingham decades ago, not speaking a word of English. That Brazilian girl, now a proud U.S. Citizen, and member of this committee, owes so many of the successes in my life to the wonderful education I received from the Framingham Public Schools,” said Sousa last night after she was sworn in by Mayor Charlie Sisitsky.
Sousa was chair of the district’s racial equity and inclusion subcommittee last term.
Photo of Sousa & Barnhill (left)