Salem student makes waves as school board’s first-ever student advisor

Marion County

It all started with Leanette Mabinton speaking out at a school board meeting as a freshman

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A high school student is making waves and representing the voices of other students after she was recently appointed to a new position with the Salem Keizer School Board.

It all started with this student speaking out at a school board meeting when she was just a freshman. 

It was this moment a few years ago that put Leanette Mabinton on the radar of the Salem Keizer School Board.

“I patted her on the cheek and said let me finish,” Leanette explained. “That was a big moment — they made a gif out of it.”

That night, she was speaking out about proposed boundary changes in the district.

“There were so many opinions but there was no student voice speaking,” she said.

Her comments at the meeting landed her an internship with the school district. Now in her senior year at McKay High School — she was just appointed as the first-ever student advisor to serve on the school board.

“If I need to bring up something to the school board that I think is important, that is my job to go and relay the message.”

Salem-Keizer is one of the most diverse districts in the state. Leanette says having a student of color in this position is important, especially when dealing with issues like student oppression and school resource officers.

Leanette and her grandmother. (Courtesy: Leanette Mabinton)

Leanette and a student task force played an active role in the superintendent’s decision last week to end the school resource officer contracts.

She credits her grandmother, who raised her, for teaching her the value of taking a stand.

“My grandma said the one time you don’t speak up for yourself will always turn into another time and another time,” Leanette explained.

Leanette will pass the baton to the next student board adviser in June and then comes college — then a possible career in education.

“You might see me in the White House someday,” she said. “That’s always been my plan.”

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