Marilyn Parker, a former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education member, was sworn in Tuesday night at the school board’s regular meeting to fill a vacant seat on the board.
Parker, a Republican representing District 2, said that it’s going to be a learning curve for her because she has been off the board for a while, but she is excited to be back.
“I’ve got a lot to learn about all the new things that are happening,” Parker said after the meeting. “It’s good to be in committee meetings and learn about things.”
She said she voted on just the board agenda items in which she felt comfortable taking action on, deciding not to vote on items where she didn’t have background knowledge.
“But I should be able to get all of that and be up to speed in the next few weeks,” Parker said.
Her children Seth Parker, Grace Wijeratne and Anderson Parker showed up Tuesday night in support of their mother. Wijeratne’s husband, Amila, and Seth Parker’s girlfriend, Lorae Schafer, where also there.
“We’re happy she’s back to serve the children of Forsyth County,” Seth Parker said. “That’s always been her goal.”
He added that his mother talks about serving the community.
“Her reasoning for coming back this time is always for the kids,” he said. “It’s always to leave politics aside. She felt the board was in need and needed her service….She was happy to be appointed.”
Parker replaced Lori Goins Clark, who resigned Aug. 29, citing personal and family reasons. Clark’s resignation came amid revelations that she inadvertently sent a text message to former interim Superintendent Kenneth Simington that contained a racially insensitive image of a cartoon character.
The Journal filed two public records requests with the school system, asking for a copy of the message Clark sent, as well as a copy of any settlement that exists between Simington and the school system.
Brent Campbell, a spokesman for WS/FCS, said Tuesday that the requests are “still in process.”
This is the second time Parker has been appointed to the board.
She was appointed to finish Mark Johnson’s two-year term after he was elected as N.C. superintendent of public instruction in 2017. Before that, she served 16 years as an elected representative on the board. She is currently the preschool director for Ardmore United Methodist Church. She is also a volunteer at Cook Literacy Model School.
Parker has been a public school teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in education.
Val Young, president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators, said that association members are happy that they now know who is filling the vacant position and have seen Parker’s work.
“Like any other board member, we are willing to work with them to make a nice transition for her because she hasn’t been here in a while,” Young said.
But Young said that “as in anything, we’re looking for people who will be advocating for our children.”