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.
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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.