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A request for the new L.A. superintendent: Ask our kids what they need

As part of a new ongoing video series, the Education Matters team is talking to parents and students throughout Los Angeles to learn what they want from their schools and the people who run them. For this first week, we spoke to mothers Esperanza Mejia and Lourdes Vazquez, who are friends living in Pico-Union. The two moms and their children talked about what they would like the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education to consider as it searches for a new superintendent.

Esperanza Mejia has three children. The two younger ones — Brenda, 16, and Oscar, 14 — are in different high schools at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, a campus with four schools, each with a different career track. Brenda is a junior in the School of Global Studies, and Oscar is a freshman in the School of Business and Tourism.

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Mejia wants to see smaller classes for her children, because some classes have more than 40 students. "They need at least two teachers per classroom," she said, in Spanish. "If there are 40 students, they need two teachers per classroom."

Lourdes Vazquez is the mom of Kevin Castro, 16, and Emily Castro, 9.

She and her son think a superintendent should be more involved than former schools chief John Deasy was, and that the school board should ensure that low-income communities have the resources they need. Kevin, a Franklin High School student, couldn't name the last superintendent because he had never had the opportunity to meet Deasy or share his concerns.

"Maybe if the superintendent actually came to our schools and talked to us and we got to know him," Kevin Castro said, "maybe that would be helpful."

For example, they said the air conditioning at Franklin didn't work in early August, before returning to school for the new year. LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber said there was a problem with the air conditioning last year, but as of the first day of school the air conditioning was working. She added that there was a fitter on site on Tuesday, the first day of school, to ensure there were no problems.

Reach Sonali Kohli on Twitter @sonali_kohli or by email at sonali.kohli@latimes.com.

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