LA Unified board votes against a caretaker (twice) for vacant seat
Vanessa Romo | February 12, 2014
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The LA Unified school board on Tuesday quashed any chance for temporary representation for the 110 schools and nearly quarter million students in board District 1, twice defeating measures that would have appointed a non-voting caretaker.
It was just the latest example of the inability of a school board, paralyzed by the absence of a potential tie-breaking vote, to push past personal differences for sake of unity.
The decision means that the seat, which has been vacant since Marguerite LaMotte died more than two months ago, will remain empty through a special election scheduled for June 3 or through mid-August if a runoff is needed.
The path to failure began when board president Richard Vladovic delayed action on a proposal from Steve Zimmer with an an idea of his own, which he called an amendment — directing Superintendent John Deasy to select and appoint an “executor” for the seat. Before the vote, Monica Ratliff asked Deasy if he knew whom he would appoint.
“I don’t,” he said.
The amendment failed on a 3-3 vote.
That brought the members back to Zimmer’s proposal, a carefully worked measure that would have allowed residents of District 1 to participate in the appointment process by nominating candidates for the position.
Zimmer had led the campaign to appoint a non-voting advocate, devising a set of duties and responsibilities that might “walk right up to the line of what’s legal,” as he said. But the board failed to pass it, again at 3-3.
Oddly, Vladovic, who considered himself a good friend of LaMotte’s who had spoken passionately about making sure that District 1 students and families had an interim voice on the board, voted against Zimmer.
That spurred a strong reaction from Ratliff, who cried when the board met for the first time after LaMotte’s death.
She referred to the board’s agreeing to have Zimmer lead an ad hoc committee to find a way to bring a District 1 caretaker to the board. Zimmer held a public meeting last week, and no other board member attended.
“He was sent on a task and nobody supported him,” Ratliff said before turning to the three who voted against his solution — Vladovic, Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia. “Why did you vote against his report when you voted for the process to find a caretaker?”
She pressed them for an answer, saying “Constituents in District 1 deserve to know.”
But Vladovic insisted, “They only have to justify their votes to their constituents.”
Garcia said she voted against ZImmer’s proposal “because of my respect to the process and the people.” Yet she had voted in favor of Vladovic’s approach.
Minutes after the second vote, Garcia told LA School Report that one reason she opposed Zimmer’s motion is because “I don’t have the confidence in the ability of the board to select a caretaker.”