Written by Kenneth Miller, Managing Editor | LOS ANGELES SENTINEL
12-04-2008 -- The second largest school district in the nation has decided to table the fate of its first Black Superintendent David L. Brewer until next week because the lone African-American member on the Los Angeles School District Board (LAUSD) will not return until then.
Marguerite Poindexter-LaMotte, who represents District I, was requested to return from San Diego for a board meeting that convened on Dec. 2 where members were to vote to buy out Brewer's $300,000 contract in a closed session, but she could not make those accommodations and will not return until next week.
Poindexter-LaMotte is the only Black on the seven-member board where the majority of its members, including President Monica Garcia, are Hispanic* and published reports have indicated that they are in favor of removing Brewer.
* smf: This is factually inaccurate, two members are Hispanic.
"I think this board is acting outside of the Brown Act for political expediency and I am requesting that you the LAUSD Board, therefore, consider this my official request (or motion because I am on official Board business) to delay any discussion on Tab 4 of the Closed Session Order of Business [Dec. 2] until it can be duly and properly noticed to all board members so that all members can be in attendance and with a timeline that outlines required legal due process," Poindexter-LaMotte wrote in a confidential letter to the board.
Many board members refused to go on the record with any comments regard Brewer stating that since nothing transpired at the board meeting there was nothing to report about the matter, but the swirling rumors have led to speculation that his ouster is imminent.
She said that her phone was exploding with immediate outcry from leaders of the African American community who had already been informed of the agenda to fire Brewer.
Among those were the Rev. Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles, who urged the board to give Brewer due process before reaching a conclusion.
"I think that they need to engage in a process of evaluation that determine the validity of their desire to remove him. I think the process also has to respect the dignity and respect for a man who has accomplished much in his lifetime and for a three star Admiral who was willing to take on a school system that had been failing for 30 years," said Lee.
The Sentinel had learned late on the evening of Dec. 1 that Garcia informed leaders of the Black community than an agenda to remove a Superintendent who many feel lacked the essential credentials to be hired in the first place was in full motion.
Brewer was hired two years ago and while test scores have climbed during his tenure, critics have characterized him as nonessential to these accomplishments and say his lack of internal leadership has become an anchor slowing reforms.
However, the success in the classrooms has led some to speculate the decision of the board is premature.
"I thought test scores moving in a positive direction would be a benchmark of his performance," said Councilmember Jan Perry, adding that she was "shocked" to learn about Brewer.
"I asked 'why' when I got the phone call," said Councilmember Bernard Parks, "All they [school board members] were able to tell me was that 'he wasn't moving fast enough.' But I don't think they have really justified their decision, especially since scores have gone up since he's been superintendent. It's just very surprising."
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor Richard Riordan and billionaire Eli Broad, who are promoting reform efforts and charter schools, are said to have been pushing the politically charged LAUSD into the direction of replacing Brewer.
However, Sentinel columnist Larry Aubry, who has written extensively on the problems in the LAUSD, cautioned the community to not be caught up in the politics involved with the decision but rather look at Brewer's track record since he was hired.
"The fact of the matter is that Brewer has not done the job as far as I'm concerned, but I don't want this to turn into an 'us versus them' kind of thing because the facts will get lost," Aubry said.
Many in the educational field have said that while Brewer is an educated man, he is not educated for this position.