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Verbal fireworks at L.A. school board meeting

After four board members are sworn in for four-year terms, Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte calls out her colleagues for playing politics.

July 02, 2011|By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Angeles school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte gives an impassioned speech after being sworn in during the panel's oath of office ceremony on Friday.
Los Angeles school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte gives an… (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles…)

After four Los Angeles school board members were sworn in for four-year terms Friday, a verbal skirmish broke out, with one member calling the newly reelected board president a flunky for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Monica Garcia, who has strong ties to the mayor, was one of those reelected. She was also reappointed president of the seven-person panel.


FOR THE RECORD:
L.A. Unified board: An article in the July 2 LATExtra section about verbal skirmishing that erupted after four members of the L.A. school board were sworn in said that Monica Garcia was reelected to the school board this year. She was reelected in 2009. —

But Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte could not let the meeting end without calling out her colleagues for playing politics. She heatedly criticized the district's actions, including allowing charter school operators to take over some campuses, and Garcia's leadership. Garcia has served as president, a largely ceremonial position, since 2006.

"I was personally hoping you'd give someone else a chance," said LaMotte, who nominated Steve Zimmer for the post. "There's so much that's wrong…. Something's got to change. I hope it will not work as it has for the past four years."

When Garcia responded that the board needed to be willing to embrace change, LaMotte snapped: "I'm not afraid of change."

She then bemoaned Villaraigosa's influence. LaMotte, who has served on the board since 2003, has long been an outspoken critic of the mayor, who helped raise funds for four current board members, including Garcia.

The vote to give Garcia another year as board president was 4 to 3, with Tamar Galatzan, Nury Martinez and Richard Vladovic — the members backed by the mayor — in favor of Garcia. The three who were not supported by Villaraigosa — Zimmer, LaMotte and newcomer Bennett Kayser — opposed Garcia's presidency.

"We need another seat where [Villaraigosa] can come up here and sit," LaMotte said.

Garcia also appointed Vladovic board vice president for the second time.

Kayser, a longtime teacher, was elected to replace Yolie Flores, who decided not to run again. Kayser was heavily backed by the teachers union and defeated Garcia's chief of staff.

The other members sworn in were Galatzan, LaMotte and Vladovic.

jason.song@latimes.com

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