- by Howard Blume | LA Times
1 July 2008 - As expected, Monica Garcia was reelected today as board president for the Los Angeles Unified School Distirct, but not until one board member alleged that politics and backroom manipulation sometimes put the interests of adults ahead of students.
The position of president is largely symbolic -- the president has one vote just like other elected board members. But the president does control committee assignments and chair meetings. And the president frequently represents the district and can play an outsized role in setting the board's policy agenda.
Garcia ascended to the presidency last year as the most senior member of a new board majority aligned with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
One board member on the other side was Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who survived a reelection campaign in which she was targeted by the mayor's allies.
LaMotte accused the board majority of being politically self-serving and making key decisions out of public view.
LaMotte particularly criticized the deluge of board resolutions that she said were unnecessary, distracting and often ill-conceived.
"The operation of this board is manipulative," LaMotte said. "The majority does have the right to decide, but the minority has rights, which must be protected."
As she spoke, Garcia sat to her immediate left, with a smile pasted on her face.
LaMotte abstained during the roll call of votes. The other members of the seven-member body cast their ballots for Garcia, including Yolie Flores Aguilar, who joined the meeting by phone from the Spanish island Tenerife, where she is vacationing.
Once elected, Garcia singled out each board member for praise, including LaMotte, whom Garcia complimented for keeping the board focused on issues of equity.