LBUSD bids farewell to Megan Kerr ahead of being sworn into City Council seat

Megan Kerr is among the newly elected City Council members who will be sworn into office tonight, when she will officially begin her new role representing Long Beach’s 5th District. But before taking over that seat, Kerr had to bid farewell to her place on Long Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education.

Kerr, a much-loved board member who served for eight years including two one-year terms as president, chaired her last meeting on the LBUSD board last week.

“Megan you have always, always put students first,” LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker said during the Wednesday board meeting.

The board also approved a resolution honoring Kerr’s service, presented by the board’s vice president, Diana Craighead, as well as resolutions from Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Before running for office, Kerr was a PTA member and volunteer.

“I started in this district 21 years ago as a young parent,” said Kerr. “Ten years ago (board member) Mary Stanton stopped me at Longfellow Elementary and said, ‘I’m not running again. I think you should run for school board.’ I told her that I’m the behind-the-scenes person. … She said, ‘Just think about it.’”

Then-Longfellow Principal Brian Moskovitz (now assistant superintendent over LBUSD elementary schools) added his voice to support that idea. Then Kerr’s husband did as well.

“And it became a chorus from my community and so I did, and here we are 10 years later,” said Kerr. “I’m so proud of the work we’ve done.”

Kerr has been a major leadership presence on the board and in the district since her election, and is well-known by those around the district as a valuable sounding board and source of common-sense counsel. She has also been a big-hearted supporter of LBUSD kids and staff, not afraid to tear up or show emotion at board meetings when talking about something moving or tragic.

The district played a tribute video to Kerr that included messages from Mayor Garcia, Jordan High School Principal Keisha Irving, and several Jordan students.

“Your heart has always been towards our students who need adults to show up for them,” said LBUSD Deputy Superintendent Tiffany Brown.

Craighead said the first time she met Kerr was when she was a PTA member at Longfellow and Hughes Middle School.

“She’d organized a rally around the issue of the lack of funding for public education from the state,” said Craighead. “I remember being so impressed with her because she’s a mom of three little kids and she’s out there organizing and advocating and doing a great job of it.”

One of Kerr’s strengths in recent years has been increased advocacy and connection with state and federal public schools agencies. Several who spoke Wednesday brought up the hope that she’ll continue that kind of outreach work while a city councilmember.

“This is a great loss for Long Beach Unified,” said former superintendent Chris Steinhauser, who spoke at the meeting. “You made me a better superintendent and made us better for eight years. I know you’re going to strengthen the (district’s partnership with the city).”

Fellow board member Juan Benitez praised Kerr for her presence in North Long Beach and for being a mentor.

“I can’t emphasize enough how she sets the bar for being present in our community,” he said. “You can’t serve the community without being present in it.”

He also pointed out that when he was elected, the district didn’t have an onboarding manual for new board members. Kerr was always available to answer questions and give Benitez a tip, he said.

Perhaps the most moving tribute of the evening came from Maricela de Rivera, a public affairs employee with the city of Long Beach who is also a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission, and was one of the three women who ran for Kerr’s seat on the Board.

“Megan’s a really good listener,” said de Rivera, who first approached her as a parent. “She’s comforting and empathetic. She invited me to coffee and we had a conversation about my struggles with the district, and we made a plan for how to make things better for my kiddo and others.”

De Rivera said Kerr will leave a hole that’s hard to fill in North Long Beach.

“I am so grateful that she has loved our North Long Beach community and she’s seen all of her district. She has poured all of her time and love into North Long Beach,” she said. “You’ve been a mom and a mentor and a friend to every school in North Long Beach.”

Kerr is being replaced by Maria Lopez to represent LBUSD’s Area 1; Lopez will be sworn in at tonight’s LBUSD board meeting, where the board will also re-organize with a new president and vice president.

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