Two Dayton school board leaders not seeking re-election

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

The two men who have been president of Dayton’s school board over the past four years are not running for re-election in November.

Mohamed Al-Hamdani and the Rev. William Harris, both of whom were elected to the board for the first time in 2017, confirmed they will not seek second terms. Both cited the time commitment of serving on the board as a factor. They will remain on the board until January.

Four of the seven seats on the school board will be decided in the November election, and five people have submitted petitions to run for those spots, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick-Gagnet, who were also elected in 2017, are seeking re-election. The other three who have submitted petitions to run for school board are Chrisondra Alexis Goodwine, Joe Lacey and Crystal Phillips.

The Board of Elections will meet Aug. 16 to finalize whether those candidates, and hundreds of others around the county, will be officially certified for the Nov. 2 ballot.

Harris, pastor of Believers Christian Fellowship Church, was president of the school board in 2018 and 2019, immediately after being elected. He said that was a challenge because of the learning curve that faces new members.

Harris said he’s proud that the board helped Dayton Public Schools avoid state takeover, opened a community health center and added career tech pathways at Meadowdale and Belmont high schools. He said given other goals in his personal life, he couldn’t commit to four more years.

“We need to continue to put the kids first, and never veer from that course,” Harris said. “It’s so critical that we give our students a quality education, so they’re able to compete when they leave Dayton Public Schools, whether that’s in college, or a job.”

Al-Hamdani also mentioned the health center and avoiding state takeover as highlights, but he said it was important that the school board gave the district more stability the past few years, minimizing labor strife and other tension that had hurt the district in the past.

He urged next year’s board to keep a close eye on Dayton Public Schools’ budget. As a former DPS student and employee, Al-Hamdani called serving as school board president “the biggest honor of my life.”

“COVID kinda opened a lot of people’s eyes as to what’s important, and the most important thing to me is raising my two boys and being there for them,” he said. “Unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day to spend with them, and also be school board president and also work as an attorney. I could no longer sacrifice that time that I should be spending with them.”

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