LAUSD School Board President Target of Recall

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

A campaign to recall Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education President Mónica García was formally launched last week, the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office has confirmed.

The campaign was announced on April 11 in front of LAUSD’s headquarters, one day after the city clerk received the recall notice.

García, who represents the second district, is termed out. Her term ends June 30, 2013. A replacement could be elected in March or May 2013, depending on whether there is a runoff for her seat, Maria de la Luz Garcia, senior project coordinator for Office of the City Clerk-Election Division told EGP.

While the recall process has been initiated and García has been served, the group cannot start collecting signatures quite yet, according to Maria Garcia. They must first show proof that the notice was published in a local newspaper, submit copies of the petitions they intend to circulate and once they receive approval they’ll have 120 days to collect 26,608 signatures from registered voters in the district, and have them certified, Maria Garcia said.

Backers of the recall seem not to be worried about the time crunch, the signatures or the cost of a special election.

As reported by EGP on April 5, the recall appears to be fueled by anger over the proposed elimination of adult education and early education and other programs, and García was targeted for recall because she is president of the school board.

“Our community cannot take any more of these cuts,” recall petitioner Robert Skeels told EGP.  “It’s not [just] about her [García] but it is about a board that has continually punished the community. We believe by taking out the president of the board, we’ll send a clear message,” Skeels told EGP Wednesday.

Image from website

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Lanzan Campaña para Destituir a la Presidenta de la Junta Escolar

Related story: Angry Adult Ed Supporters Threaten Recall of LAUSD Board Members

Skeels said they encourage residents in other LAUSD districts to begin recall campaigns against their school board representative, which can only be initiated by the voters of a district.

The board is not getting enough political pressure from the community, Skeels said.  It might seem unusual to target a board member in the last year of her term, “but other board members need to understand they can’t do this,” he said.

Though a recall election could be pricey for taxpayers, Skeels said taxpayers are already paying for the costly decisions of the board.

In the recall notice — signed by three community activists, a teacher and an adult school student — recall proponents state they want to recall García because she has ignored stakeholders and is to blame for the layoff off thousands of LAUSD teachers and staff. While some of the teachers have been rehired, recall petitioners say the yearly layoff notice process has left teachers demoralized and has disproportionately hurt schools in poor areas.

Under García’s tenure, public schools have been systematically starved while hundreds of millions of dollars in LAUSD properties and resources have been handed over to privately managed charter school operators, the notice claims.

“The hallmark of García’s tenure has been hundreds of millions of dollars squandered on unnecessary tests, consultants, and questionable hiring priorities,” the notice states.

García accused backers of the recall of playing politics and being a distraction to efforts to protect children’s education.

“…Instead of getting involved in politics that only derail the work we should be doing, I welcome everyone to join me in figuring out how we can work together to serve our children during these hard economic times,” García told EGP in written statement.

Supporters of García say she has done much to improve schools and bring about needed reforms.

García’s track record shows she is a reformer, Maria Brenes, executive director of Innercity Struggle, told EGP. She helped bring about the A-G college prep requirements, supported charter schools and small schools in her district. She fought for Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez and Esteban Torres high schools, and has supported teacher-lead collaborations for in-house reforms, said Brenes, whose husband Luís Sánchez ran unsuccessfully last year for the school board district 5 seat and was formerly García’s chief of staff.

Brenes, who has been involved in education and school reform for many years, says the backers of the recall are part of the status quo, and have targeted García because she is a Latina leader of the Eastside. She said the school board has a difficult job to do, with all the funding cuts.

“These are challenging times because of the state crisis, and people have a right to be angry… Like all board members, Monica’s hands are tied when it comes to these cuts because so much revenue comes from the state.”

For the Record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Luís Sánchez as Mónica García’s chief of staff, he no longer holds that position. He does, however,  still serves as a “Senior Advisor to the Board President,” and has started his own consulting firm, according to Maria Brenes.

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April 19, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


4 Responses to “LAUSD School Board President Target of Recall”

  1. Chance LaRue on April 19th, 2012 10:34 pm

    There’s really no defending Monica Garcia, who has compromised the integrity of the board and the quality of education in our community. When she was untroubled by revealatins that Ramone Cortines took a $100k position with Scholastic as a consultant, despite the clear conflict of interst it presented because Scholastic makes $16 million annually for providing LAUSD with standardized testing, a controversial topic as it is, I took notice.

    Garcia went on to overlook the brutal bullying of teachers who were unjustly liabled by LAT and LAUSD when their test scores were made public, an awful humiliation made worse by browbeating from Thier administrators. This was the catylist for one young Teacher’s suicide and following the reports on housed teachers, it also marked an all out declaration of war against us.

    Garcia allowed the CBA, labor laws and state education codes to be trampled upon when she okayed the displacement of Clinton MS teachers weeks after he cut off date of March 15 . This was done after two years after these veteran teachers were recruited to work in this school which had a demographic of children with about 98% below proficiency in basic English, their parents unable to speak any English at all and poverty a daunting deterrent for progress. Unsure what was happening, the teachers ended up in limbo, parents and students’ protests for them went ignored and the school was made into a charter, which was the plan all along. Unloading costly veterens teachers sweetened the pot. Deasy has demanded a clause in the present CBA that liberates him from duty to hire displaced teachers, so these Dedicated professionals will not be placed after being usurped because they failed to get kids who can’t speak English to grade level according to a test that has a nearly 50% margin of error, is compromised by widespread cheating, and pits these kids against those in white affluent schools .

    Their parents never weighed in though they should have been…

  2. Luis Gabriel Sanchez on April 20th, 2012 2:43 am

    Garcia is being used as the Latina mascot for the billionaires that will never set foot in a public school classroom by themselves, but that want to take public resources for private charter companies, evaluate and fire teachers based on student test scores, NOT hold students accountable for their learning and test scores, and hire non-educators to lead the school system.

  3. Martha Infante on April 20th, 2012 7:23 pm

    How far has Brenes strayed from her roots as an activist to an executive…to cast aspersions on those who participate in something as grassroots as a recall campaign is pretty disappointing.

    I am a Latina from Boyle Heights and Monica Garcia’s leadership has left a lot to be desired. The recall is the culmination of her fervent support for Public School Choice policy that has not proven to improve schools and instead has thrown existing schools into massive turmoil. The CREDO report from Stanford University about charter schools verifies this.

    To name-call instead of arguing the merits of the issue is indicative of the lack of legitimacy in her leadership and of that of her supporters.

  4. Sally Smith on April 25th, 2012 4:27 am

    According to her statement, Maria Brenes thinks that public education is the “status quo” and school reform means getting rid of public education. Also, it’s interesting that she makes this a racial issue given that the majority of the signers of the recall are Latinos.

    Furthermore, Monica Garcia accuses “backers of the recall of playing politics and being a distraction to efforts to protect children’s education” because according to her, protecting children’s education means getting rid of Early Childhood Education.

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