By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The Dearborn Heights District No. 7 Board of Education has two new faces after Velma Truitt and former D7 Trustee Phil Shannon were unanimously appointed Feb. 6.
Both Dearborn Heights residents will serve 10 months on the board until Dec. 31.
The two vacancies came after Lori Fujita and Robert Brown resigned from their positions Jan. 11 and Jan. 22, respectively. Four board seats will be up for grabs in the November general election.
During the Feb. 6 special meeting at the Annapolis High School’s media center President Mandy Diroff and Trustees Carrie Harleton, Marcia Lebar, Karen Whisler and Vickie Bracken asked the five candidates five questions related to the position.
Along with Shannon and Truitt, Latanya Gater, William Dishroon and Joe Collier were interviewed by the board.
The questions addressed interest in serving on the board; qualities, skills and experience; roles and responsibilities of a school board member; personal needs vs. district needs; and approach to being a minority vote on an issue.
Shannon said he has been an active member of the community as a coach with the D7 Dad’s Club, volunteer police officer and spent 13 years on the school board. He was board president for 10 of the 13 years.
“I’m of the opinion that, in order to have a healthy community you have to have a healthy school district and a good, strong board and good leadership is essential to really having a good community,” he said. “I feel it’s something that’s really necessary.”
Shannon’s experience included Michigan Association of School Boards training courses; certified board member; and additional classes in negotiations, superintendent searches and school law.
Truitt said she was interested in one of the vacant seats because she worked for the district for 30 years and has been involved in the district since 1981.
“I started volunteering in 1981 at Polk Elementary School,” Truitt said. “I was very involved in the parent groups. I can’t tell you the number of millages and tech bonds I’ve worked on, and just have been very, very devoted to the district — very supportive.”
Following interviews, the board had a brief deliberation session then called for nominations and appointments of Shannon and Truitt.
Lebar cited the 10 months remaining for new board members when saying she was looking for someone that has experience with the district and being a board member.
She added that her opinion is that it would be hard trying to bring somebody new up to speed during the short time span.
An oath of office was completed and the two new board members took their seats for a quick audience participation session before the meeting ended.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])