INGLEWOOD — Although a majority of the Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education now faces a recall effort, board members appear unruffled by the movement, saying they do not believe it will succeed.
Board members Caroline Coleman and Ernest Shaw were served with recall notices at Monday night's board meeting by the same group that has begun collecting signatures to recall board President William Dorn.
If petition drives are successful, the three members--who formed a voting bloc that took control of the board three months ago--could face the voters next April.
In an interview Wednesday, Coleman said she was neither surprised nor concerned by the recall notice.
"I don't think this will hamper me," she said. "In the seven years I've been on the board, there have been six or seven recall efforts in Inglewood. None of them have ever been successful. In fact, none of them have ever even qualified for the ballot."
Acting City Clerk Veronica Watro said Inglewood has had six recall efforts since 1972, when a movement was launched to recall a majority of the school board. All the attempts failed to qualify.
Dorn appeared equally unconcerned, although recall leaders said they have collected several hundred signatures against him since they began their drive last Thursday.
"There's a big difference between being served with a recall and a recall being carried out," he said. "There's nothing for me to fight until they get 13,000 signatures, and that means they'd have to collect at least 100 signatures a day every day for the next four months. That's why I'm not really thinking about it too much. I don't think it's really feasible."
Leaders of the recall movement have 120 days, or until mid-November, to collect the 13,000 signatures--30% of the electorate--to qualify for the April, 1986, ballot.
Shaw was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
The three board members angered hundreds of community leaders, teachers and parents soon after gaining control of the board when they abruptly fired Supt. Rex Fortune in May, without initially offering any reason. Fortune was rehired six weeks later when Shaw reversed himself and joined the board's two opposition members in voting for the superintendent's reinstatement.
While community leaders praised the rehiring of the popular administrator, they said Shaw's change of heart was not enough to save him from the recall effort.
Vote 'a Plus'
"That vote certainly is a plus in his favor," recall chairwoman Caroline Elam said after Monday's meeting, "but Shaw's going to have to do more than that--he's going to have to show us that he's not part of the political machine in Inglewood."
Some community leaders have said the new majority is part of a political machine controlled by Mayor Edward Vincent and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roosevelt Dorn, who is board president Dorn's uncle. After he was fired, Fortune said his ouster was engineered by Vincent and Judge Dorn as retaliation for Fortune's refusal to appoint a friend of the mayor to a principalship. Both Vincent and the judge have denied those charges.
In their recall notices, Coleman and Shaw are accused of "constraining district business" by walking out of two successive board meetings, and of violating state open-government laws by holding a private meeting with board president Dorn.
Both members also are accused of "exposing the district to financial loss" by disregarding the advice of board attorneys on the firing of the superintendent.
The recall group further accused Coleman of "failing to represent the board at authorized and financed conferences." Coleman has been indicted on a felony charge of embezzling $1,200 in district funds given to her to attend a New Orleans educational conference for which she failed to register.
Coleman denied all the charges, saying they are "absolutely and unequivocally false." She and Shaw will have seven days to file an answer to the charges before the recall is filed with the Los Angeles County registrar's office. Both the charges and the response will be printed on the petitions.
Shaw also is accused of "misrepresenting" his professional status and attainments in campaign literature, ballot statements and the resume he submitted to the district after he was elected.
Among other things, Dorn is accused in his recall notice of "unprofessional behavior" at board meetings, attempting to suspend Fortune "without explanation or due process" and missing board conferences.
In his response, Dorn said that he has acted professionally and that the actions against Fortune were justified. He said he opposes going to conferences at taxpayer expense.