LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Residents and elected officials advocated different approaches Tuesday in filling a vacancy on the Los Angeles Board of Education created by the sudden death of longtime trustee Marguerite LaMotte.
The board ultimately delayed the decision until their next meeting.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports Washington lawmakers were among those on hand to convince the board to avoid rushing to appoint a successor to LaMotte’s seat.
LaMotte, who was elected to the Board in 2003 and re-elected in 2007, had served as counselor, assistant principal and principal in the LAUSD for more than three decades. She died Dec. 5, according to officials.
The board has the option of appointing a replacement to fill out the remaining 18 months of LaMotte’s term.
Opponents of that option contend the board will not necessarily choose a replacement who will best represent LaMotte’s district. A coalition, that includes U.S. Democratic Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters, asked the board to hold a special election, arguing voters in South Los Angeles should have the right to choose their own representative.
But Waters insisted it be done after LaMotte’s funeral Saturday out of respect for her family.
“Moving forward at this sensitive time is premature and would be hurtful to her family, friends, and community, all of whom are grieving,” Waters said.
The group also said by delaying any decision to discuss the filling of LaMotte’s seat until the next Board meeting on Jan. 7, it would also allow the community to weigh in and try to seek consensus on a replacement.
However, critics say that could be a costly option that could leave students in District 1 without a voice for several months.
Former City Councilwoman Jan Perry is among those calling for the Board to appoint former administrator George McKenna to fill the vacancy left by LaMotte.
“Dr. McKenna brings a great deal of experience and understanding of children from all backgrounds,” Perry said.
The District 1 seat held by LaMotte has traditionally been held by a black school board member, according to LA School Report.
In addition to the vacancy, the Board was also expected to review its policy for distribution of iPad tablet computers to every student in the district.
Both sides have started online petitions, but neither had gained any sizable advantage in signatures as of Monday evening.