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Jordan High won't join mayor's partnership

Union leaders, though divided, decide against allowing teachers a second chance to vote.

December 20, 2007|Howard Blume | Times Staff Writer

Jordan High in Watts will sit out the mayor's school reform effort -- at least for one year -- creating complications and disappointment for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Wednesday's decision reverses previous announcements from the mayor and the Los Angeles Unified School District, which gave seven schools the opportunity last week to decide whether to join Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

Parents at all seven went with the mayor, as did most teachers who voted in a separate ballot. But under an agreement between the district and the teachers union, the mayor's plan needed a majority of a school's entire bargaining-unit, regardless of how many voted. By that threshold Jordan fell short, as did another high school, the Santee Education Complex.

All last week, the mayor and his staff claimed victory based on their reading of official election rules.

This week, the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, forged a compromise allowing some teachers another chance to vote. At Santee, those teachers on vacation -- about a third of the faculty -- will get to cast ballots in January, if they haven't already voted. For Jordan, L.A. Unified agreed to let 19 people who did not vote get another chance as well, even though no one was off work.

Jordan's union leadership, though divided over second-chance voting, decided against it. "We've ascertained that most of the people who didn't vote, could've voted," said UTLA President A.J. Duffy. The school could vote again next year.

One complication is that middle schools feeding into Jordan will apparently be signing on with the mayor, making it more difficult to coordinate curriculum and programs.

Still, district officials have accepted the decision, as has the mayor.

"Without a broader desire from teachers for change, reforms would have been unlikely to succeed," Villaraigosa said through a spokeswoman.

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howard.blume@latimes.com

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