Marguerite Poindexter La Motte Vacancy
At the Schools with Audrey Linden
Iconic figure, Marguerite La Motte suddenly passed away Thursday, December 5th while at an educational conference in San Diego. Marguerite La Motte had been a teacher, a principal and a School Board Member with LAUSD for ten years. She was a treasure to students and teachers, and she will be sorely missed.
While the School Board looks into replacing La Motte, whether by an election or by an appointment, she is one woman who cannot be replaced. There is no replacement for this feisty, outspoken woman. La Motte expressed herself fully on the Board, and did not hold back.
She was the lone dissenting vote against the continuation of John Deasy’s contract. She was the one “pro-teacher” and “pro student” voice the teachers could count on. While she aligned herself with the Union, UTLA, she voiced herself as a staunch independent.
At the last Board meeting I had attended, Marguerite La Motte spoke out against the corporatizing of the schools and the use of corporate money. She did not want a dollar sign placed on the children’s’ heads. She did not want corporatizing of “my babies”, as she referred to the LAUSD students. She came across as warm, personable, and caring. La Motte’s integrity would not allow her to do a “yes” vote for political reasons. At the age of eighty, she owned her soul and would not sell out to anyone. She had nothing to gain and nothing to lose with her votes. She was quite a remarkable person. She frequently was on the side of the teachers and not on the side of the Superintendent. The teachers counted on her as a touchstone. Now, sadly, that touchstone is gone. Her passing leaves a vacancy for the South and Southwest Area. This seat has been filled by an African American.
How the School Board will find a successor for the vacant seat is not known. This issue will probably be taken up at the December 17th meeting when a decision is reached whether to hold a special election or to appoint a successor. In the past, when this situation had occurred in 1976, Howard Miller had been appointed. He was subject to a recall. Whoever fills her seat, will be the incumbent in the 2015 election. The City Charter rules have changed allowing for an election, which could cost millions for the last year replacement of Marguerite La Motte.
The latest update on finding a successor is that three of the School Board members favor having a special election. Those favoring the election are Board President Richard Vladovic, Monica Garcia, and Tamar Galatzan. Bennett Kayser favors an appointment because of the time involved in holding a special election which would leave District 1 without representation in the coming months. Monica Ratliff is leaning towards an appointment and Steve Zimmer is undecided with no option totally satisfactory to him. If there is a tie with three to three, then there would be a special election but it would not move as quickly as one voted upon by the Board with a majority. George Mc Kenna, retired senior administrator, who was with Inglewood School District for six years as superintendent is being urged to run. George Mc Kenna, 72, was principal of Washington Preparatory High School and spent most of his career with LAUSD. Most recently, he was a regional superintendent for LAUSD.
The new successor could represent a swing vote for the Union and teachers or be another voice for the District’s policies. Time will tell who Marguerite Poindexter’s successor; not replacement, will be. Rest in peace, Ms. La Motte. Thank you for your years of service to the District, the teachers, and to your “babies”, the students of LAUSD.