Thanks to his predecessor and the work of other student leaders, Panashe will be able to cast a deciding vote on board of education matters, except issues concerning the school budget, school enrollment boundaries, appointing the superintendent, collective bargaining and expulsions.
He will also be included in closed sessions, with the exception of when the board meets about collective bargaining and personnel hearings.
The new Havre de Grace rep
Fitzpatrick, who has lived in the city since the mid-90s, said Tuesday that he's been "active in various civic affairs in Havre de Grace for a long time."
He has served on the board of directors for the Lock House Museum, is a founding member of Main Street Havre de Grace and helped set up the arts and entertainment district.
The new board member will finish out Ronald Browning's term, which will end June 30, 2015. Browning, also of Havre de Grace, stepped down earlier this year.
Fitzpatrick, who represents Riverside as well as Havre de Grace, credits the public for getting him to apply to be a board member.
Several people approached him about the position and City Council President Randy Craig, as well as Councilman David Glenn, made public comments about having someone from the city on the board to help advocate for a new high school in the city.
"There's been a lot of public support and private support," he said, adding that strangers have come up to him in the street congratulating him on the new job.
While in the long run Fitzpatrick intends to work toward a new Havre de Grace High School, for the first few months, he said, "I'm basically going to lay low."
"I need to understand how the board works," he explained. "I need to learn more about the issues that are front and center."
He added that he's going to concentrate on the "learning curve" and "earn his stripes" before persuading to build a new school.
Fitzpatrick's first meeting most likely helped him earn a few of those stripes.
The board members had a "lively debate," as he described it, about a new school system logo.
He found the experience informative, he said, as he was able to "watch group dynamics play out right there in front of you."
As for his fellow board members that he debated with, Fitzpatrick has nothing but nice things to say, adding that "everyone is, so far, pretty friendly, open and up front."