In Partnership with 74

Quietly, LA Unified gets a voice in place for District 1

Vanessa Romo | March 6, 2014

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Sylvia Rousseau

Sylvia Rousseau

After school board member Marguerite LaMotte died, her district — which stretches from Palms to Central Los Angeles — went without a voice for 89 days. That ended Tuesday, when the Los Angeles Unified School Board hired Sylvia Rousseau as a temporary “liaison” for the community.

The appointment approved by unanimous consent after little fanfare and no public debate.

Rousseau, who will continue teaching full time at the USC Rossier School of Education, will serve until a permanent replacement has been elected later this year. The district has agreed to pay her $49.90 per hour.”

Today, her second day on the job, Rousseau told LA School Report, “I’m really trying to get a profile on what District 1 is like.”

“I want to learn from the community, parents, and principals so that the board has a more clear idea of what its needs are as they deliberate on major decisions that affect District 1” she said.

Rousseau said she will report her findings to the board at each monthly meeting.

Information will also be going in the other direction. Working with local superintendents and school principals, Rousseau is responsible for keeping District 1 parents informed about long-term issues, including the new Local Control Funding Formula and Common Core implementation.

Parents have accused the board and Superintendent John Deasy of acting secretively, making the appointment in a closed session meeting and failing to speak publicly about Rousseau’s role.

But district officials said that may be more an issue of expediency. Rather than hold an open debate to refine specific job responsibilities, board members met individually with her and agreed that she was ideally suited for the job.

“This is a person of such high esteem and caliber that we chose to trust her with the substance of the work, based on what she said to us individually,” said board member Steve Zimmer, who has been the leading advocate for finding some means of connection between the board and District 1 until the special election, which is scheduled for June 3.

Zimmer said Rousseau’s major focus will be conveying to the board “data and trends” from within District 1 so the information can be considered in two of the biggest issues before the board in the coming months — the district’s annual budget and setting priorities for how to spend new state money from the Local Control Funding Formula.

Previous Posts: The LA Unified board appoints a ‘liaison’ for vacant board seatDoes experience count? LAUSD candidates vie for attentionThe LA Unified board twice voted against a caretaker for vacant seat.

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