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Longest-serving member of School Committee retires

Alfreda Harris, the longest-serving member on the Boston School Committee, is retiring, effective immediately, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced Tuesday.

Her retirement came just five days short of what would have been her 20th anniversary on the School Committee.

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She had been serving as the body’s vice chairwoman.

Menino, at a back-to-school press conference, called Harris “a great public servant.”

Appointing Harris to the School Committee was one of Menino’s first tasks when he became acting mayor, before winning his first mayoral election.

Menino, who is stepping down in January, went on to reappoint Harris five more times.

Michael O’Neill, the Boston School Committee’s chairman, said “she will be deeply missed.”

Harris’s departure was unexpected. She still has more than a year left on her four-year term on the committee, whose members are appointed by the mayor.

In a letter to Menino, Harris said that her time on the committee was “a very rewarding experience” and that “it has been an honor serving on behalf of the students, parents, teachers, and the community of the Boston public schools.”

She, however, was vague about the circumstances of her departure, saying “for personal reasons I will no longer be able to fulfill my duty.”

Harris could not be reached for further comment.

Her departure will give Menino another opportunity to appoint someone to the seven-member committee before he leaves office.

In the coming days, the mayor’s office will release information on how interested residents can apply for the position, which will be only for the remainder of Harris’s term. The replacement will probably be named in mid-October.

James Vaznis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.
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