John Brown Sr. prevailed with 57 percent of the vote in Saturday’s runoff election for the Orleans Parish School Board seat that opened up after Ira Thomas was indicted for taking a bribe.
Brown, a longtime teacher and principal in New Orleans public schools, has been serving as an interim replacement for Thomas since March, representing a district that covers much of New Orleans East and the Lower 9th Ward.
His victory Saturday over fellow Democrat Keith Barney, a special-education teacher, means he will remain in the 1st District seat through next year and have the incumbent’s advantage were he to seek a full four-year term after that.
He joins a board that is still uncertain about its future role, with most of the city’s public schools still answering to a state agency that took over after Hurricane Katrina. The board’s new superintendent, Henderson Lewis Jr., has promised to bring those schools back under local control, but the choice is ultimately up to the schools, all of which now operate as autonomous charter schools.
Brown’s win could help the board reassert itself, not that his take on the school system differed all that much from Barney’s. Unlike Thomas, his sharp-elbowed predecessor, Brown has had a mostly congenial relationship with his colleagues on the board. And the charter schools eyeing whether or not to come back under local control have been wary of getting caught in the political intrigue that prevailed while Thomas was still a member.