Backers of an effort to recall the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board said Monday that they will be in Lincoln Heights this weekend collecting signatures to place the recall of Monica Garcia on a special election ballot.
They have conducted similar signature gathering efforts in Koreatown and the southern region of School Board District 2, according to Vera Padilla, one of the organizers of the recall effort.
Schools may be on break, but “We will be collecting signatures all summer,” Padilla said.
The group has until Tuesday, Sept. 4 to collect at least 26,608 signatures from registered voters within the school district boundaries, according to Maria Garcia, spokesperson for Los Angeles City Clerk Election Division.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Recolección de Firmas En Curso para Destituir a García 
Padilla says the Latino community elected Garcia to the school board because they thought she would listen to the community’s concerns, but that hasn’t been the case. She says the people volunteering to collect signatures for the recall, are some of Los Angeles poorest residents.
Garcia is termed out and only has one year left in her current term that ends June 30, 2013. But recall proponents say they want her out of office before then, even if it is only a couple of months early.
“I feel like she’ll go onto a higher position… we want the community to know that they shouldn’t trust her. I want to smear her name to be very honest,” Padilla said. “I want to tell the community ‘be aware, become educated about who you are voting for and make them accountable.’”
Padilla also criticized Garcia for supporting the construction of new schools while teachers are being pink slipped and programs are being reduced. She said cuts to adult and early education will “devastate” Los Angeles.
Some of the planned cuts to adult and early childhood education, however, have been staved off through an agreement reached between the LAUSD and UTLA, the teachers union.
As part of the agreement, teachers have agreed to take 10 additional furlough days in the upcoming school year. The agreement is also expected to prevent the layoffs of about 4,500 teachers and thousands of other district workers.
“As a result of the 10-day furlough agreement with UTLA, Adult Education will receive a much-needed $45 million in additional funds for its 2012-13 budget.” LAUSD spokesperson Monica Carazo told EGP in an email.
“These funds will enable the division to bring back 61 shared and stand-alone sites that were slated for closing. The total Adult Education budget for 2012-13 – including federal dollars – is $105 million,” Carazo stated.
Carazo said 48 percent of the Adult Ed programs will be taken off the chopping block and several programs—like the Career Technical Education (CTE), English As a Second Language (ESL), General Education Development (GED), Adults with Disabilities (AWD) and Programs for Older Adults (POA)—will be restored. There will also be partial restoration of the Regional Occupational Program (ROP), she said.
Local adult centers that will reopen include: the East Los Angeles Occupational Center, Garfield CAS, Roosevelt CAS, Lincoln CAS, East Los Angeles Skills Center, Eastside Learning Center, Belvedere Learning Center, Hamasaki Learning Center, Marianna Learning Center and Wilson CAS, according to Carazo.
Twenty-four small early education centers with enrollment capacities of 85 or fewer students will be closed, among them, Belvedere, Soto, Toland Way early education centers, Carazo also said.
But recall proponents are quick to point out that despite this partial last minute reprieve, the adult education program will be about 25 percent of the size it was five years ago, and almost 25 percent of the school district’s early childhood education centers will still be closed, causing overcrowding at the remaining sites. The district’s poorest families will be especially hard hit by the changes, they claim.
They blame Garcia for allowing the cuts to happen.
In a written statement, backers of the recall effort also questioned the wisdom of allowing LAUSD’s $19 Billion school construction fund, “in which a new school is opened every month,” to continue taking in and spending money, when “programs essential to our communities are continually being slashed.”
“An initiative could be placed on the ballot in which citizens could vote to reallocate construction bond funds to the LAUSD General Fund, but instead Monica Garcia’s failed leadership is wreaking havoc on public education. Board President Monica Garcia needs to be held accountable,” the press release states.
The continued construction of new schools while teachers get pink slipped really resonates with recall supporters and the community who see this as an example of Garcia’s poor leadership, the campaign says.
The campaign also blames the board president’s tenure for tens of thousands of reductions in force notices, favoring “privately managed charter school corporations,” and mismanaging millions of dollars on “unnecessary” tests.
García never responded to Recall Notice of Intention, which gave her 21-days to counter the recall proponents’ arguments. She also did not respond to EGP’s requests for comment for this story.
But in a previous interview with EGP, García accused recall proponents of “playing politics.” She said she invited her detractors to work with her to “serve our children during these hard economic times.”
A recall effort directed at School Board Member Nury Martinez announced earlier this month by laid off school teacher and East Valley resident Renato Lira, failed to meet this week’s deadline to submit proof of publication for the Notice to Recall Martinez, according to City Clerk spokesperson García. She said he would have to start the process all over again if he wishes to continue.