Monday night, the Board of Education announced their selection for the new board member representing Northeast Denver, the largest and most diverse region in Denver Public Schools.
Rachele Espiritu, a DPS parent, will complete a four-year term vacated by Board Member Landri Taylor that is to expire in 2017.
Espiritu told the board she plans to run for the seat in November 2017 to provide continuity and a voice for Northeast Denver.
“I am honored by this selection and will work hard on behalf of our diverse constituents,” she said at a meeting Monday of the Denver Student Board of Education.
The Board of Education had to name a new selection for the position after their previous pick stepped down.
MiDian Holmes announced on her Facebook page that she would be stepping down, after her criminal past became "a distraction."
Court records obtained by Denver7 showed Holmes was charged with child abuse in 2006. That charge was dismissed and she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of child abuse, no injury involving neglect.
She was charged with wrongs to minors in 2005, but that case was also dismissed.
Denver Public Schools released more information about their new selection in a statement Monday night:
Espiritu earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is a founding partner of Change Matrix LLC, a minority- and woman-owned small business, where she provides training and technical assistance at the local, state and national level to build capacity for child, youth and young adult behavioral health services.
In her statements to community members during the selection process, Espiritu emphasized her focus on serving the emotional, mental and social needs of children – the “whole child.”
“As a professional with my Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I’m excited to bring my focus on the whole child to the board,” she said. “I know children learn and succeed when they are supported and engaged, when they’re healthy and safe, and when their emotional needs are being met.”
She also discussed her desire, as the mother of two boys in DPS schools, one a traditional neighborhood school and one a charter school, to ensure all families have access to great educational opportunities.
“We all want our children to have the best possible experiences and opportunities in school,” she said. “And these options should be available for all Denver families in their own neighborhoods. When our children thrive, our community thrives.”
As a person of color, Espiritu said, she will represent the diverse constituents in Northeast Denver and strive to authentically engage families and communities.
“Celebrating the diversity of our district fosters equity and creates a climate of belonging for all,” she said. “I will listen carefully to the voices of our community and look forward to learning even more about our neighborhoods’ strengths and challenges so we can support ALL children.”
Espiritu, 46, also serves as the Project Director for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health, a federally-funded network of over 2,100 members, including ethnic- and community-based organizations that are addressing disparities in behavioral health care.
In addition, she was appointed by Denver Mayor Hancock to serve as a commissioner on the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission, serving as a support liaison and facilitator between the Asian Pacific American community in Denver, the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships, and the office of the Mayor of Denver.
Initially, more than 20 candidates applied for the unpaid position representing Northeast Denver.
Espiritu will be sworn in at the Board of Education Focus on Achievement session on May 12.