Vancouver Public Schools’ directors have unanimously appointed Camara Banfield, Clark County chief criminal deputy prosecutor, to the school board.
Banfield replaces Mark Stoker, who resigned last month after sending a tweet advocating using fire hoses against protesters marching against police brutality against Black people.
Thirteen candidates applied for the open position.
Banfield, who holds bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Oregon, has been practicing law in Clark County for nearly 20 years. In her application, Banfield highlighted her experience as a supervisor overseeing reform of the county’s juvenile justice system.
“This work I do for the community has led to several opportunities for me to reach out to the public on issues that affect our society, and in particular our youth,” she wrote. “I have frequently spoken at our local schools regarding achievement, student athleticism, and even the legal system as it applies to our student populations.”
Banfield also served as a member of the Washington State Bar Committee for Diversity, and was recently a member of the board of the YWCA.
Banfield, a Black woman, will be the only person of color on the board. About 45 percent of students in the district identify as people of color, but the board, historically, has been all white.
Banfield has three children in Vancouver Public Schools, and noted her experience as a mother of children of color in her application material for the position. She wrote that, while her children have benefited from the district’s programs, she’s also witnessed “the marginalization of certain groups in our community.”
“I believe that as our community continues to grow and change, in terms of both size and demographics, those that serve our community should reflect the changing needs and demographics,” she wrote.
Banfield joins the district at a time when officials say dismantling systemic racism must be a top priority. The district came under scrutiny last year after the Attorney General’s Office found some students of color and disabled students are suspended or expelled at disproportionately higher rates. It announced last month a new diversity initiative, including the hiring of a chief diversity officer and an audit of its policies and practices.
“I am honored to be chosen to serve our school district and I look forward to adding yet another new perspective,” Banfield said in a news release. “I am passionate about making a positive impact for our students with the assistance of our ever-growing diverse community and the other directors of the board.”
Banfield’s term will expire at the end of 2021. The position will be up for open election in November 2021 for the full four-year term.
This story will be updated.