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LAUSD board honors Marguerite LaMotte, retiring employee

Craig Clough | December 12, 2014

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Retiring LAUSD employee Linda Perez with board members Bennet Kayser (L) and Richard Vladovic.

Retiring LAUSD employee Linda Perez with board members Bennet Kayser (L) and Richard Vladovic.

The LA Unified school board honored two people at its meeting Tuesday as retiring 20-year employee Linda Perez received a certificate of appreciation and late board member Marguerite LaMotte was remembered with a moment of silence.

LaMotte was a long-serving member of the board when she passed away on Dec. 5, 2013 at the age of 80. On the year anniversary of her death, the district named a school in her honor, the Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte Elementary School at 4410 Orchard Ave. in south LA.

Before a moment of silence, each member of the board offered words of remembrance of LaMotte. (Click on the below video links to see portions of the meeting when LaMotte and Perez were honored.)

“I’m probably more personally involved with Marguerite than most, although I didn’t sit on the board with her. We were colleagues in many endeavors and friends,” said George McKenna, who won LaMotte’s vacant seat in a special election earlier this year.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines described the ribbon cutting ceremony of the school named for her and said he could feel her presence there.

“She was so focused on the importance of schools and children, and opportunities for children, and this ribbon cutting ceremony was just beautiful,” Cortines said.

Monica Garcia recalled how LaMotte was always friendly despite their often being on opposing sides of issues.

“When I think about Miss LaMotte, I think about the compassion she showed me,” Garcia said. “When I first got elected, and it was a turbulent time, she was the only board member who came out and wished me well. She brought me flowers and a smile and a hug, and I appreciated that.”

Steve Zimmer lightened the mood a bit with a story that captured what many say about LaMotte, that she was a kind and caring person to all those around her.

“I wore a tie today that she bought me,” Zimmer said. “She said, ‘Zimmer I’m going to need to buy you some ties because yours are looking very raggedy these days.'”

The board also honored Perez as President Richard Vladovic and Bennett Kayser presented her with a certificate of appreciation. Perez worked as a secretary in the special education division and also served as president of the California School Employee Association, LA Chapter 500.

A number of board members expressed gratitude to Perez, including McKenna, who said, “You were a visionary. Tenacious. Sometimes stubborn, which I love. I hope you enjoy your retirement.”

Perez also addressed the board, saying, “My passion for my union, my commitment has been very strong. And I’m stubborn, yeah. You know, sometimes you have to be to get what you want, what you need, what your members need more than anything.”

As the meeting concluded, Vladovic played a song by singer Etta James in honor of LaMotte. He said it was one of her favorite songs, in particular because James was a graduate of Jefferson High School, which was in LaMotte’s district.

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