L.A. Unified meets over how to fill school board vacancy

Los Angeles Unified School District board member Steven Zimmer discusses options for filling post after the death of fellow trustee Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles Board of Education committee charged with developing a process to appoint a caretaker for the vacant District 1 seat will be unable to fill the post with a voting member.

The meeting at district headquarters downtown Tuesday evening was chaired by board member Steve Zimmer, who asserted that he would prefer an appointee to have full voting powers. General Counsel David Holmquist said that under the law, however, because the board called a special election, no appointee could cast a binding vote.

A board majority has sided with Holmquist in that view but also delegated to Zimmer the task of how to manage the vacancy until a successor is elected. Zimmer said he would not make a final recommendation until hearing public testimony.

The seat in District 1 opened up with the Dec. 5 death of Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. A primary election for the seat is scheduled for June. LaMotte’s district spans much of South and southwest Los Angeles.


Zimmer hopes an appointee, even with limited authority, could be in place early in March. Holmquist said the selected person could cast non-binding votes, sit with elected board members and discuss issues before the board. But this representative could not take part in private “closed sessions,” during which confidential matters are discussed.

Testimony on Tuesday came from four people, who sided with Zimmer’s perspective but offered few specifics on how he should proceed in delineating the role for an appointee.

“Thank you, Mr. Zimmer, for all you have done so far,” said parent Gwendolyn Landry, adding to Holmquist, “I challenge your opinion, counselor, and I think we should be ready to fight” for an appointee with full authority.

“It just seems like more people should be here,” said another parent, lamenting the lack of participation from the public and the rest of the Board of Education.

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