Karen Keys-Gamarra, who last month announced the kickoff of her school board reelection campaign, is Fairfax County School Board’s only African American member and its only countywide-elected African American public official.
Her landslide win in August 2017 to fill a vacancy is widely celebrated as the start of the “blue wave” in Virginia and across the country.
“When slavery sums up a child’s exposure to black history in a classroom, we need a change in our educational system,” Keys-Gamarra said in a statement. “When discipline referrals for Black, brown and special-education students are more than three times those of their counterparts, we need a change in our educational system. When Advanced Learning classes don’t reflect the diversity of the community, we need a change in our educational system. These are a few of the issues negatively impacting our community and my efforts are laser focused on addressing such concerns.”
Fairfax County Public Schools is the 10th-largest school system in the United States. In a county of more than 1.1 million people, FCPS serves about 188,000 thousand students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds.
In her two years on the school board, Keys-Gamarra, who has lived in Fairfax County with her husband since 1990, has successfully led many efforts to ensure best educational outcomes for the county’s students. Among those efforts are plans to increase access to Advanced Academics and Language Immersion programs, improve special education services through professional development for staff and greater communication with parents, and to provide support to staff to address student behavioral concerns.