JP’s Lorena Lopera Named to Boston School Committee

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Acting Mayor Kim Janey named two new Boston School Committee members, including Jamaica Plain resident Lorena Lopera.

Jamaica Plain resident Lorena Lopera was named to the Boston School Committee by Acting Mayor Kim Janey on July 22, 2021. (Photo from City of Boston)

Along with Lopera, Polanco Garcia of South Boston was also named to the School Committee.

Lopera is a Boston Public Schools parent and Executive Director of Latinos for Education, New England, which is a national organization dedicated to creating leadership pathways for Latinos in education. She is currently co-chair of the Hurley K-8 School Site Council.

She has been very involved with organizations focused on expanding educational access for Latinx youth and students of color, including Roxbury-based Sociedad Latina, La Vida, Inc., and Building Excellent Schools, plus national organizations such as City Year and the Posse Foundation, according to a press release.

“My own educational experience and my experience as a Boston Public Schools parent is what will guide my decisions on the Boston School Committee,” said Lopera. “I’m honored by this opportunity, and ready to roll up my sleeves to co-design solutions with families, educators, and community members so all students within Boston can succeed.”

Polanco Garcia is a Boston Public Schools (BPS) parent and serves as Director of Parent Engagement and Organizing at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs.

The two appointees follow up several months of council instability after three members resigned, starting with former Chair Michael Loconto making mocking Asian names during a committee meeting. Then former members Lorna Rivera and Chair Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, who replaced Loconto, resigned due to racially charged texted they exchanged with each other.

Janey said she would fill two vacancies with greater equity, opportunity and accountability in mind.

Polanco Garcia and Lopera were chosen from a list of candidates provided by the Boston School Committee Nominating Panel, which worked independently to conduct the public application and interview process that attracted 23 applicants.

Janey also announced plans to extend Racial Equity and Leadership (REAL) training to all members of the Boston School Committee.

“REAL training, which is also being provided to all city of Boston staff, will be a first step toward setting new rules of engagement among School Committee members, families and all those with a stake in our schools,” said Janey.

Polanco Garcia is an immigrant living in South Boston public housing with a background in law and bilingual advocacy. She previously worked on the No on 2 campaign in 2016, helping to pass a sanctuary schools resolution, and passing the Student Opportunity Act. Since 2015, she has served as the Director of Parent Engagement and Organizing at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs in the South End.

“As an Immigrant from the Dominican Republic, it is a great honor for me to represent English Language Learner families on the Boston School Committee,” said Polanco Garcia. “As a single mother of a Boston Public Schools student, I feel committed to my community. I know that many families will be able to identify with me and together we will be a voice in the school district.”

The new members will attend their first Boston School Committee meeting on August 4.