Armor Resigns Trustee Post for Job With Defense Dept.

Times Education Writer

Los Angeles school board member David Armor, a conservative elected last June to represent the west San Fernando Valley, announced Monday that he is resigning to take a Defense Department post in Washington.

Armor, a former Rand Corp. social scientist and a staunch foe of mandatory busing, said he had been asked by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to serve as a top deputy to the assistant secretary for force management and personnel.

His resignation, effective April 30, will likely leave the school board operating for another 14 months without an elected representative from the West Valley.

Board Options

The remaining board members could call a special election to fill Armor's job, could choose a successor of their own, or could leave the job open until the municipal election in June, 1987.

Though no decision was made Monday, several board members said they are opposed to a special election because of its cost. Others said they were also opposed to naming a successor to Armor.

"We could operate with six (board members)," said Roberta Weintraub, who represents the east San Fernando Valley. "I think we ought to think about the voters' right to choose" rather than selecting a representative.

"I'm really disappointed about David's leaving because it leaves a major area of this city unrepresented," Weintraub added.

Rather than touching off the traditional testimonials, Armor's surprise statement of resignation at Monday's board meeting prompted a series of attacks from his colleagues.

Armor said he was at first undecided whether to take the Defense Department offer. "What tipped the scales for me was the discovery about two months ago that the majority of my colleagues favor a move to increase the (paid) time and salaries of board members, possibly even to the point of establishing a full-time, professionalized board," Armor said.

$24,000 A Year

The seven board members in Los Angeles earn $24,000 a year for a post that is supposed to require two days of work per week. However, board members say their jobs, which include overseeing a school district budget of about $2.7 billion, actually take nearly all of their time.

Armor, a desegregation consultant, said he is opposed to a full-time board "for philosophical and policy reasons" and also was "reluctant" to give up his work outside the school board. Moreover, he said, "such a move (toward a full-time board) would change the rules of the game and the terms under which I decided to run for this board."

When he finished, board members took turns criticizing Armor's statement, although they did not deny that they were interested in expanding their responsibilities and salaries.

"You don't have to feel guilty about having Potomac fever," said board President Rita Walters, who clashed repeatedly with Armor during his brief tenure on the board. "But you do a disservice to your colleagues here with your statement. I find it difficult to understand the logic of your taking a full-time job 3,000 miles away when you say you don't want to take on a full-time job here."

Both Weintraub and John Greenwood said they supported the idea of raising the pay and official work load for board members, but as Greenwood added, "I don't see those efforts going anywhere."

Armor, 47, won his seat on the board last June in a run-off election with Elizabeth Ginsburg, a school teacher. In recent months, he fought against the board's decision to move toward year-round schooling.

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