Backed by high-spending outside groups, Tramelle Howard knocked off incumbent Kenyetta Nelson-Smith on Tuesday, vaulting the 28-year-old onto the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board to represent District 3.
Nelson-Smith, 38, is an associate specialist of community and economic development at the Southern University AgCenter. A graduate of Glen Oaks High, she has a Ph.D from LSU. She was elected to the board in 2010, the same year as a business-backed majority was elected and has controlled the school agenda since. She was promoted to board vice president in September after fellow board member Connie Bernard gave up the position.
Nelson-Smith has been critical of outside charter school groups, saying she prefers homegrown charter schools. She was endorsed by two big teacher unions in the parish.
Howard, 28, is a graduate of the Southern University law school and has been a classroom teacher in local charter schools. He is working now as an “impact manager” for the nonprofit group City Year, stationed at Celerity Lanier charter school.
Howard received more than $100,000 in backing from outside groups and big donors with ties to charter schools. Howard, who like Nelson-Smith is a Democrat, had promised to improve District 3’s low-performing schools. He’s also been critical of Superintendent Warren Drake, saying he would seek to replace him once in office.