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New Akron School Board Member Is Making History

N.J. Akbar is marking several firsts with his election to the Akron Public Schools Board of Education.

Voters in Akron elected three new members to the Akron Public Schools Board of Education Tuesday. One of them made history.  

N.J. Akbar is the first openly LGBTQ Muslim elected in Ohio. Akbar is the assistant dean of University College at Kent State University. He said he was encouraged to run by a colleague at the university.

With his new position, Akbar wants to examine equity policies, increase flexibility in the academic calendar and be transparent about how the board operates.

"We can also start livestreaming our meetings," Akbar said. "We have a brand new building, why not livestream and take questions? Even if we don’t answer them right in the meeting, they’re able to be responded to within 24-48 hours."  

photo of Akron Public Schools headquarters
Akron Public Schools moved its administrative offices to this building at 10 N. Main St. in April 2019.

Akbar’s candidacy was endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization working to get more LGBTQ people involved in government.

Akbar, who is African-American, said he hopes to represent a diverse perspective on the school board.

He will be one of three new members on the board. The two others are Valerie McKitrick and Derrick Hall. They will replace incumbents Tim Miller and Morgan Lasher who lost, and Curtis T. Walker, Sr. who decided not to seek reelection. 

Another seat will be open come January as well since Ginger Baylor, whose term runs through 2021, has won election to an at-large seat on Akron City Council.