LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A newly appointed member of the Lansing School District Board of Education checks all the qualification boxes, say leaders of the public body.  

Deyanira Nevárez Martínez’s selection was announced by the board on Sept. 22. She’s a professor at Michigan State University with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy. She was also an advocate supporting ethnic studies in Arizona.  

Dr. Deyanira Nevárez Martínez (WLNS)

She is a mother of two boys, ages 7 and 12; neither is a student in the Lansing School District. They attend a private Catholic school.  

“My faith is incredibly important to me, and I do not believe that the public schools is the place for faith,” she says. “You know, there is a separation of church and state. I do not ever wish to impose my beliefs on anyone. My children get that … not at a public school.” 

While her kids don’t attend Lansing Public Schools, she says public schools are a key part of her success. “I really believe in giving back to your community and I am a product of public schools from the day I started at migrant Head Start to my K to 12 education,” she tells 6 News. 

She’s already signed the official oath of office, which means she is a seated Trustee on the school board. A ceremonial swearing-in will take place in the near future. 

The 9-member board is elected by voters. A term on the board is 6-years. The board oversees a $192,591,000 budget to educate kids in the city of Lansing. To serve on a board of education in Michigan, the person must be 18 and a registered voter in the school district. Michigan laws do not require a candidate to have kids or they do, for the children to attend the district. 

Board President Rachel Willis says the board approved Nevárez Martínez’ appointment because of her educational background and her passion for improving the Lansing Public Schools. Previous members of the Board, Willis notes, have served while they had no children or had children attending a school of choice other than Lansing Public Schools. She notes Kurt Richardson, who Nevárez Martínez is replacing, sent his children to East Lansing Public Schools.  

Willis said she recognizes the concept of sending children to a private religious school and honors that choice more so than sending one’s kids to a neighboring district.  

“Which is something I view different than ‘choosing’ to choose your child to another public institution where there are competitive funding or other things that can impact the Lansing School District” 

Willis says Nevárez Martínez meets all the qualifications the board sought in a replacement Trustee. Voters will have their say in November 2024.