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Kelly Gonez, the daughter of an immigrant mother and the first in her family to attend college, was selected Tuesday as the new school board president for the Los Angeles Unified School District, representing a generational shift in the nation’s second-largest school system and potentially a shift toward more influence for backers of charter schools.

Gonez, 32, was elected in 2017 to the Board of Education, representing a district that covers most of the east San Fernando Valley.

She pledged to center her attention “on our students and families above all else, especially during this dire and extremely difficult time for so many in our school community.” She especially emphasized racial and social justice issues as areas where the school system needs to do better.

“The Black and brown students we serve cannot thrive in a system built to undermine their promise,” Gonez said. “As a board we must lead with equity in mind and confront the racist vestiges in our public schools, from discipline practices … to resource allocation to staff development selection and placement. That means in every board decision prioritizing our most historically underserved students,” including Latino students, students experiencing homelessness, foster youth, English learners and students with disabilities.

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