Atlanta school board’s new leader calls student equity top priority

The new Atlanta Board of Education chairman named student equity the district’s top priority during his first meeting as leader.

Jason Esteves, 34, will serve a two-year term as board chairman after a unanimous vote Monday by the nine-member board.

He announced the creation of an equity task force charged with making sure the board has a policy to guarantee equitable treatment of students. The task force also will monitor the policy’s implementation, which will include reviewing all aspects of the district’s operation from funding to classrooms.

“I want to make sure that this board, as we look at all the various issues that we tackle, we are looking at it through the lens of equity,” he said.

Esteves tapped board member Byron Amos to lead that effort.

Esteves works as assistant general counsel at Equifax and was first elected to the school board in 2013. In November, he was unopposed in the race to retain his at-large seat 9.

Esteves taught in Houston with the Teach for America program after graduating from the University of Miami.

He serves on the boards of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, or GALEO, and the Latin American Association.

He takes over the chairman post from Courtney English, another former TFA teacher who ran unsuccessfully for an Atlanta City Council post instead of seeking to return to the school board. Former board vice chairman Nancy Meister nominated Esteves to be chairman, praising him as an "outstanding colleague" as well as dependable and transparent.

The board unanimously selected returning board member Eshé Collins as the new vice chairman. Meister will lead the board’s budget commission.

The new board includes six incumbents and three newcomers. All nine were sworn in Monday in front of an audience of about 75 family members and Atlanta school employees.

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