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Ridley-Thomas and Waters duke it out to fill LAUSD seat

LA School Report | December 16, 2013

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Websites with competing views on how to fill south LA school board seat

A deep split in the black community is emerging on the eve of a vote by the LA Unified school board on how to fill its vacant seat left by longtime trustee, Marguerite LaMotte.

Today, a coalition of groups, led by US Representative Maxine Waters, launched a website and circulated a petition to build support for former administrator, George McKenna, and to ask for supporters to rally outside of the board meeting for his appointment.

The website is titled, “Appoint George McKenna. It promotes only McKenna, who is retired LAUSD regional supervisor, and satisfies at least some players in the black community, including former Council member Jan Perry, Council member Bernard Parks, as well as some local community groups, according to the coalition’s website.

The move appears to have emerged from last night’s community meeting called by Waters, a strong ally of LaMotte’s and the teacher’s union. The meeting was reportedly attended by 200 people, including UTLA members and Steve Zimmer, according to tweets by LA Times reporter, Howard Blume.

The flurry of activity could be an end-run to compete with an earlier call to action by County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who sent out a flyer over the weekend calling for a rally outside the board meeting to support a special election to fill the seat.  Election-supporters are also circulating a petition on a website called, “Empower South LA.

Ridley-Thomas told LA School Report today that he has spoken with five of the six board members — he declined to identify the sixth — and insisted that “there is no consensus for any single appointee” should the board vote to pick a replacement. He said he intends to speak the the sixth member later today.

He also said that holding a special election is the most principled way to honor LaMotte, even if portends deadlocked votes on important issues for months to come.

“There is nothing unusual about a vacancy,” he said. “Any major decision in need of a seventh vote and be deferred. The Board of Supervisors can do it when it’s appropriate.”

In an op-ed piece published in LA School Report, Ridley-Thomas teamed up with heavy hitters, US Representative Karen Bass, Herb Wesson and John Mack to support an election.

The district 1 seat has traditionally been held by a black school board member.

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