LaNier Echols, a newcomer to the Indianapolis Public School Board, unseated Michael Brown, its longest-serving member, completing a sweep for candidates promising more aggressive changes in the district.
LaNier Echols, a charter school dean who raised more than $30,000 for her campaign, defeated Brown, a longtime Northwest High School volunteer, with about 55 percent of the vote, according final, unofficial results from the Marion County Election Board.
“I am honored, I am blessed to know that parents, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and even some of my former students voted for me to be commissioner,” Echols said. “I literally had students messaging me saying, ‘I voted for you. You believed in me, and I believe in you.’ ”
Brown last month reported he had raised $420, which he said all came from relatives. Incumbents in IPS only raised about $6,000 among the three of them, while the three successful challengers together raised more than $100,000.
Brown could not be immediately reached for comment.
Brown was a strong supporter of former Superintendent Eugene White, voted against his buyout and has been skeptical of some of the changes the board has embraced since 2012, such as partnerships with charter schools. He said during the campaign that smaller class sizes, quality teachers and more involved parents are the keys to improving IPS.
Echols came to Indianapolis to teach in IPS through Teach For America, the national group that places recent college graduates as teachers in low income classrooms across the country. She had the support of local school reform advocates and argued school leaders should have more freedom to make their own decisions. At 28, Echols will be one of the youngest school board members in IPS history and the first ever to work at a charter school while on the board.
“I think I represent the new voice in IPS District 5,” Echols said. “I again, appreciate what (Michael Brown) has done, but it’s time for us to work toward the new and better Indianapolis Public Schools.”