YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

School Recall Chances Bleak, Proponents Say

December 05, 1985|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

INGLEWOOD — A committee seeking to recall two Inglewood school board members expects the effort to fail because its original issue--the firing of the district's superintendent--was settled with his rehiring.

A similar movement to recall a third school trustee failed last month.

The recall committee, led by community activist Caroline Elam, has until Dec. 20 to collect signatures from 30% of the city's registered voters--roughly 13,800--to place the recall of Trustees Caroline Coleman and Ernest Shaw on the April, 1986, ballot.

The group has collected half of the needed signatures. The earlier recall effort against Trustee William Dorn was nearly 8,000 signatures short at the Nov. 14 deadline.

Joyner Issue

Elam said she noticed a slight increase in signatures last month after the three trustees voted to rehire Rosebud Joyner, a former Monroe Junior High School teacher who was declared "unreliable, inefficient and inadequate" by a professional review board. But even so, Elam said, it is unlikely that the committee will collect enough signatures in the next two weeks.

"The whole Rosebud Joyner issue fanned the flames momentarily but not enough to make a difference," Elam said this week.

The group of about 13 parents and other residents formed after the three-member majority on the board voted in May to fire Supt. Rex Fortune. After a storm of protest, the board rehired Fortune two months later, but the group continued to collect signatures.

"There has been a wane in interest since the superintendent was reappointed," said the Rev. Matthew Jefferson, former chairman of the recall committee.

Specific Charges

The group accused the three board members of "unprofessional behavior" in voting to fire Fortune and of showing more interest in advancing their political careers than in educational issues. The group also charged that the three violated state open-government laws by meeting privately on several occasions to discuss the school board agenda.

Coleman was also accused of "exposing the district to financial loss" by ignoring the school district attorney's advice on the firing of Fortune and "failing to represent" the district at educational conferences. Coleman is scheduled to stand trial Dec. 18 on a felony charge that she embezzled school funds given to her to attend an educational conference in New Orleans.

She declined this week to comment on the recall, saying it was "premature to make any statement until after the Dec. 20 deadline," although in written responses to the charges all three board members defended their qualifications for office.

School board President Dorn was accused of "failure to support educational programs" and also of chronic absenteeism from board meetings and training conferences. Dorn also refused to comment on the committee's recall.

Shaw Never Felt Threatened

Shaw, the school board's vice president, was accused of misrepresenting his job title in campaign literature. Shaw, the only board member to comment openly about the recall, said he never felt threatened by the drive.

"I thought they had about as much chance of getting a recall as having snow fall in July," he said.

The group also planned to attempt a recall of Inglewood Mayor Ed Vincent, saying he and Dorn's uncle, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roosevelt Dorn, "controlled the majority faction" on the school board. Both denied the allegation. The group abandoned the idea when Fortune was reinstated, Elam said.

Shortly after Fortune was fired, the three-member majority appointed Dorn as president and newly elected board member Shaw as vice president, removing William (Tony) Draper and Rosemary Benjamin from those positions.

"Things have never been the same," Elam said. "Since then, we've seen one politically motivated decision after another."

The committee has continued to collect signatures "to remind the public" of the board majority's actions, Jefferson said. "There will be action taken down the road. If these members seek reelection, this could be an issue again."

Los Angeles Times Articles