Board member LaMotte joins African American task force
The lone African American Los Angeles Unified School Board member, Marguerite LaMotte joined ranks with a bevy of community leaders to launch a task force that would oversee the selection of the next superintendent and ignite efforts to supports Black students.
During a charged press conference on the auditorium steps of Dorsey High School in West Los Angeles last week, community leaders outlined their plan on the heels of David L. Brewer's announcement that he will allow for the district to buy out his $300,000 annual contract.
Leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles SCLC), the Los Angeles Urban League, the Brotherhood Crusade and concern parents held the gathering at Dorsey because it is one of the few remaining LAUSD campus with a majority of African American student population.
"We are here today because we are very concerned about the leadership of the LAUSD and we want to show that we are committed to do something about it, " said Reginald Jones Sawyer, President of the Board for the SCLC.
Recognizing that approximately 11.2 percent or 80,000 of the 700,000 students enrolled in grades K-12 are African American, the task forces pointed to exit exams test scores which show that the district is failing Black students.
The percentage of Blacks students passing the high school English is exam is 40 percent compared to 77 percent for white.
The percentage of Blacks passing the match exit exam is 50 percent compared to 81 percent for whites, and the racial inequality math exit exam rates betweens Blacks and whites is the highest in Los Angeles.
"Supt. Brewer's resignation after only two years is an indication of the continuing crisis of public education in Los Angeles," said the Rev. Eric Lee, Executive Director of the SCLC.
"Our focus is not on Brewer or his resignation. Out focus is on the decades of failed education that has resulted in African American students dropping out of school at a higher rate than every other ethnic group.
"Our focus is on the extremely wide achievement gap between African Americans students and white and Asian student counterparts. Our focus is on the clearly evident disparities of the quality of between minority inner city schools and the wealthier white suburban schools," continued Lee.
The four-year high school drop-out rate for Black students, 22 percent is almost three times that of their white students, eight percent.
Other leaders present such as Blair Taylor of the Urban League and Danny Bakewell Jr. of the Brotherhood Crusade echoed his demands.
The group demanded first, to have a role in the selection process for the new superintendent by having a community representative on the selection committee; second to establish of a task force specifically committed to improve the quality of education for Black students; and third, a meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villraigosa to address these concerns.
"I didn't think there would be anything positive that would come out of the situation of Brewer, but this collaboration is tremendously positive," LaMotte told the media.
Five members of the school board voted to buy out Brewer's contract, but LaMotte was one of the two that did not vote for the buy out.
"My no vote was based on a number of tenants, one being the potential Brown Act violation and potential racial discrimination that also has to be investigated," LaMotte concluded.