Four school board members ousted in Washington area races

Four school board members across the Washington region lost their reelection bids Tuesday.

Alexandria School Board Vice Chairman Helen F. Morris (District A) fell just short in a race that took the top three vote-getters. Morris, who was seeking a second term, came in fourth behind William “Bill” Campbell. Stephanie Amann Kapsis, a teacher and relative newcomer to the city, received the most votes.

Campbell said Wednesday that he looks forward to having a “positive and robust” relationship with the City Council as the School Board tackles capacity issues and seeks additional funding to close the achievement gap.

Candidates who challenged D.C. State Board of Education member Dorothy Douglas (Ward 7), Prince George’s County Board of Education member Henry P. Armwood Jr. (District 7) and Prince William County School Board member Michael E. Wooten, who represents the Occoquan District, unseated the incumbents in lopsided contests.

One race in Prince George’s remained too close to call Wednesday.

With 90 percent of the precincts reporting, David Murray, a college student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, was trailing by less than 1 percentage point behind Zabrina Epps, an administrator at a community college, to fill the seat vacated by Rosalind A. Johnson in District 1.

Murray was one of three college students younger than 21 who vied to fill seats on the nine-member board. In the other races, incumbent Edward Burroughs III (District 8), a college student, cruised to victory. Raaheela Ahmed, the youngest candidate of all, captured 47 percent of the vote in a loss to Board Chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs (District 5).

Murray could not be reached for comment, and Epps released a statement declaring victory. Alisha L. Alexander, the Prince George’s election administrator, said the race will probably not be decided until Thursday, when about 1,900 absentee ballots from District 1 are counted.

Armwood’s defeat means the Prince George’s Board of Education will have two new members as it selects a school superintendent to run the 123,000-student system.

In Prince William, Lillie G. Jessie, a retired school principal, became the newest member of the School Board. Jessie, 69, who was endorsed by Democrats, said she plans to begin her term in the next few weeks.

“I think the public was saying to [the School Board], ‘We really want someone who . . . has some expertise in schools,’ ” she said of her win. She added that the top priority she heard during her campaign was ensuring a rigorous curriculum.

“Not just as a school system, but as a nation . . . we’re falling behind in problem solving, which impacts how our children are prepared to work in the global economy,” Jessie said.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
Jeremy Borden covers Prince William County, Va., for The Washington Post.
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