The divided Springfield School Committee is choosing a new superintendent, the district’s first female leader

Shortly after interviewing three finalists for the position of superintendent, the Springfield, Massachusetts, school committee Thursday evening selected Sonia Dinnall as the district’s next leader.

Dinnall is the first woman and the first Black woman to become Springfield’s superintendent of schools, the district said.

Dinnall is currently the district’s head of family and community engagement. Previously, she was director of the High School of Commerce. A lifelong resident of Springfield, she began her career in the city, teaching science at Forest Park Middle School, the district said.

In her interview, Dinnall said her personal and professional experiences prepared her for the job.

“I am committed to continuing to use my career to level the playing field, promote equality and break down barriers to empower our students to achieve their biggest goals and biggest dreams,” she said.

Dinnall succeeds Daniel Warwick, who will retire at the end of this school year.

The school committee voted 4-3 in favor of Dinnall over Kimberly Wells. Wells currently serves as the district’s chief school officer and was the preferred choice of School Committee Chairman Mayor Domenic Sarno. Wells lost by a vote of 3-4.

There was no motion to vote on the third candidate, Rene Sanchez, superintendent of the Champlain Valley School District in Vermont.

The hiring of a new school leader in Springfield has been difficult and delayed, with disagreements between some school committee members and Sarno over the selection process and issues of transparency.

This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New England Public Media.