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Tony Smith, deputy superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, meets with community members as part of a public forum introducing the three finalists for Oakland Unified School District Superintendent at Oakland Technical High School in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. (Kristopher Skinner/Staff)

Late Thursday night, after more than eight hours of deliberation, the Oakland school board unanimously voted to hire Tony Smith to lead the district, said board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge.

Smith, 42, is the deputy superintendent for instruction, innovation and social justice in the San Francisco school district. He was superintendent of Emery Unified between 2004 and 2007.

Smith is an Oakland resident, and his oldest child, 6, will attend Crocker Highlands Elementary School in the fall. Hinton Hodge said his ties to the community and his knowledge of the school district's history and challenges were one of many reasons behind his selection.

"I think he's willing to take risks around some of our biggest issues," Hinton Hodge said.