Boston Public Schools

19-Year-Old Seeks Seat on Boston School Committee, But Prefers Election Over Appointee System

Ashawn Dabney-Small, a 19-year-old Dorchester native who graduated last year from English High School, believes he would be an asset to the Boston Public School Committee, but says he would rather be an elected official than a mayoral appointee, a systemic change currently under discussion in the city

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A teenager from Dorchester is trying to snag a seat on the Boston Public School Committee, but the recent high school graduate said he would rather be elected than appointed via the system currently in place in the city.

Ashawn Dabney-Small announced his decision on social media over the weekend and received support from a number of teachers and lawmakers. The 19-year-old was born and raised in Dorchester and graduated from English High School in 2020. He believes he would be an asset to the committee because he just lived through the issues they are discussing, and unlike the student representative, he would have voting power.



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"I think there's a lot of issues to be handled, especially when it comes to racism and policing in the schools," Dabney-Small said.

Dabney-Small is no stranger to advocacy. He is often speaking out at marches and supporting campaigns. He also tried to run for city council.

"The love for my city has always been to serve and to advocate and to stand up for what's right," Dabney-Small said.

The only issue is there is no election, because Boston School Committee members are still appointed by the mayor.

"Boston is the only completely non-elected school committee in Massachusetts," said Krista Magnuson, a spokesperson for the Elect the Boston School Committee group.

Magnuson and others are trying to get the committee changed to elected instead of appointed. They helped push a ballot question about it, which Boston voters overwhelmingly supported in November, but because it was non-binding, it does not trigger any immediate action.

"It's hard to tell what the ultimate timeline will be because we don't know how long individual steps will take," Magnuson said.

A spokesperson for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said her position has not changed on the issue. She supports a hybrid committee, where some of the members would be elected and others would be appointed.

For now, those who are interested, like Dabney-Small, have nothing else to do but write into the nominating panel and hope for the best.

"Do I believe that people are too young to do anything? No. I think if you have the drive, the charisma and the passion to do it, somebody is going to see you," Dabney-Small said.

The first of many hearings about whether or not the school committee should be elected will happen next month.

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