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Ex-board president emerges as candidate for LaMotte seat

LA School Report | January 7, 2014

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Genethia Hayes

Genethia Hayes

A new candidate has emerged for the LA Unified’s vacant District 1 seat, and it’s someone quite familiar with the job.

Genethia Hayes, a former board member and president, told LA School Report yesterday that she would run if there’s an election and would serve if she were appointed. Hayes lost her seat in 2003 to Marguerite LaMotte, whose death last month created the vacancy.

The means by which the board will fill the seat is the subject of tonight’s special board meeting, starting at 6:15. The six members are expected to vote on whether to fill the seat by appointment or through an election, which could require a runoff if no candidate passes 50 percent of the vote.

The decision was postponed from last month to wait until LaMotte’s funeral had taken place.

Until now, George McKenna, 73, a retired LA Unified administrator, has been the most visible candidate expressing a desire to hold the seat. He has won the support of dozens of community groups and civic leaders, including U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters and Karen Bass.

McKenna initially said he would only serve through an appointment. But the LA Times now reports that he said he would run in an election. And, no doubt, others would, too.

One possibility is Alex Johnson, an education aide to LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Another is Jimmie Woods-Gray, a former LA Unified teacher who was recently appointed as a fire commissioner by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

After leaving the board, Hayes, 68, served served eight years as a fire commissioner, including seven as president of the commission.

In an interview, she said District 1 has changed dramatically since she was on the board, becoming much more diverse than the majority African-American community it was more than a decade ago, in part due to boundary changes that brought in more Latino families.

The result, she said, is a district in which parents care less about ideological divides than quality education.

“Most parents I talk to are not particularly interested in union bashing or union loving, in charter bashing or charter loving,” she said. “They just want a solid school experience, schools run well, faculties well-trained and teachers who understand youngsters and their cultures and the pressure we’re under as familes.”

Previous Posts: Pressures are building on how and when to fill LaMotte’s LAUSD seat; The LA Unified board postponed until January filling a board vacancyBlack Leaders Speak Out on How to Fill LaMotte Seat.



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