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President of the New Haven Public School District’s Board of Education Daisy Gonzalez passed away on Thursday morning.
News of her unexpected death was first reported by the New Haven Independent.
Gonzalez, 54, was first appointed to the BOE by former Mayor John DeStefano in 2013 and succeeded Mayor Toni Harp as BOE president after a unanimous vote of affirmation in January. Though Gonzalez had never been employed by the NHPS, she first came into contact with the BOE through volunteer work and her experience as president of the Parent Teacher Organization at the East Rock Magnet School, which her sons attended.
She is survived by her two sons, Marc and Mikey, according to the Independent.
Gonzalez inherited a BOE fraught with instability and controversy. The superintendent position, which typically works closely with the board, was vacant for a month after former superintendent Garth Harries ’95 announced his resignation in September. Gonzalez’s predecessor, Harp, was also frequently criticized, as mayors traditionally sit on the board as members rather than as its president.
During Gonzalez’s four-year tenure with the BOE, she represented the voices of NHPS parents. In past interviews, she told the News she believed serving the BOE while being an NHPS parent could increase parental involvement with the board. After being elected president, Gonzalez also focused on updating school policies to guarantee the safety of children she described as the most vulnerable: those with special needs and life-threatening allergies.
“I have always been a concerned parent, but I know there are a lot of parents that are concerned but don’t have the time to do anything,” Gonzalez said in an interview with the News a week before being elected. “If they come to me, I try to speak for them.”
According to the Independent, BOE Vice President Ed Joyner will assume the responsibility of the president until the board’s next weekly meeting on Monday.