Everton Blair will not seek re-election to Gwinnett school board

Everton Blair, chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Education, will not seek re-election to the board next year, he announced Tuesday.

Blair, whom many Democrats view as a rising political star, is considering a run for State School Superintendent

“I haven’t made any other decisions right now besides this one,” Blair told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

ExploreEverton Blair elected chair of Gwinnett school board

Blair, 29, was elected in 2018 as the Gwinnett school board’s first Black, first openly gay and youngest-ever member. Since then, two other Democratic members of color have joined him on the five-person board, creating a split with the Democrats in the majority and two white Republicans in the minority.

The school board unanimously picked Blair as chairman in January. He has led the board through a tumultuous year.

In a split vote in March, he and the other Democrats made the polarizing decision to end longtime Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks’ contract nearly a year early. In July, the board unanimously hired Calvin Watts, a longtime Gwinnett school district administrator and then-superintendent of a suburban Seattle district, as the first Black superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Blair’s tenure has been marked by struggles over the school district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, coming to a head during recent board meetings that anti-mask protesters shut down. Two women were arrested at last week’s meeting after the school district alleged they violated security protocol.

“I want to make this decision now so that we can be proactive in supporting a member of our community to represent us well on the school board,” Blair said in a letter to students, staff and county residents that he posted Tuesday to social media.

Blair will finish out his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2022.

“Amid a global pandemic, historic elections, leadership transitions, racial reckonings and orchestrated attempts to disrupt our progress, our board has been successful,” he said. “We will continue to be. The courageous actions that have transpired in just the last three years are a testament to what committed leadership can yield: bridging the gap between the old and the new, working together across lines of difference to find common ground, creating shared experiences for our diversity to be our strength and stepping out to lead with conviction even if you are alone.”

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Blair thanked the community for the opportunity to lead and for continued focus on helping students.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Blair graduated from Shiloh High School in Gwinnett before earning a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard University and a master’s degree in leadership from Stanford University. He worked for the Obama administration’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He is now national governance director at New American Leaders, an organization that prepares immigrants and their children to run for office.