Hamilton Citizen of the Year to run for city school board

It’s early, but there’s already a recognizable name who has publicly declared her interest in running for a seat on the Hamilton Board of Education.

A Hamilton minister - The Rev. Shaquila Mathews - has pulled petitions from the Butler County Board of Elections to seek a seat on the board in November’s election.

Mathews, who last month was honored as Hamilton Citizen of the Year, is a 1998 Hamilton High School graduate who has worked in recent years mentoring youth in the Butler County city and trying to stop gun violence among the city’s younger residents.

Mathews, who launched the Pastor Shaq Job/Mentoring Youth Program at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, told the Journal-News she’d like to see more transparency should she be elected to a four-year term on the governing board of the city’s schools.

“I’ve been going to (school board) meetings and I hear parents saying they want to see more transparency especially with everything that has happened,” she said, referring to the unexpected departure of former Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Off after being ordered on leave by the school board in February 2018.

“Transparency is important to our community,” said Mathews, who leads the Truth & Life Community Church in Hamilton.

Mathews, who is African-American, also said a desire to see more diversity on the school board and among the district’s teachers are also motivating her decision to join the board.

The board currently has five white male members.

A Hamilton school parent, she ran for city council in 2017 and finished fourth in the race for three open seats.

She also founded HYPE, Hamilton Young People Empowered, a non-profit organization that helps young people through mentoring, after-school programming, open gyms and other things.

And she has been working with a Cincinnati-based program called Street Rescue, which accepts “community guns” in exchange for gift certificates. Community guns are weapons that gangs or other groups hide for use as needed, so they don’t have to carry weapons around all the time.

“So many parents come up to me and talk about school issues and I’m literally in the trenches with the youth,” said Mathews.

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