L.A. Unified board to study adding student representative

L.A. Unified board to study adding student representative
Steve Zimmer had asked his colleagues to create an advisory post. That proposal failed on a 4-2 vote. (Los Angeles Times)

Without agreeing to have a student representative on the Los Angeles school board, members agreed Tuesday to direct district staff to examine the possibility of creating such a position.

Board members accepted a petition from students to establish an advisory high school member and asked staff to determine its legality. If it meets state law, the board asked that district officials determine a process for such a position.


Board member Steve Zimmer had asked his colleagues to create an advisory post. That proposal failed on a 4-2 vote.

Under that plan, the student member, who would have been elected by his or her peers, would not have had actual voting power or been allowed in closed-session meetings. Instead, the student would have provided guidance on issues and cast advisory votes. The advisory vote would have been recorded in the meeting's minutes.

The resolution also would have established a Student Congress made up of two students from every high school who would conduct surveys to help guide board decisions and priorities. The students would elect seven representatives to report directly to each board member.

"This is our chance to demonstrate and model leadership," Zimmer said before the vote. "We are here not only for our students, but with our students."

Several students spoke to the board, urging them to pass the proposal. Bryant Villegas, a senior at Maya Angelou Community School, said that the board would benefit from having student voices while deciding policy.

"Who better than students, who go through the education system every day, to address these issues," he said. "Our feedback on what we go through should be valuable to you."

Several board members, while pointing out that they support having student representation on the board, said they would rather have district staff craft a process on how to do so.

Board member Tamar Galatzan said she feared that by approving the resolution, the district would be creating a bloated student bureaucracy without  knowing the true cost and logistics of such a body.

"I don't know if the process outlined here is the best way," she said. Galatzan said she would like the district to take into account a variety of input from around the district while developing the system.

Board President Richard Vladovic told students present at the meeting that their efforts will lead to student representation on the board.

"It's going to happen, I'd just prefer that it's very thoughtful," he said.