LAUSD board member, Marguerite LaMotte
Redistricting…Redistricting…Redistricting. Redistricting is conducted at all levels of government every 10 years in light of new census data. The Los Angeles City Charter requires the City Council to redraw the lines for LAUSD’s seven Board of Education districts. The Charter creates the Redistricting Commission who is then responsible for making recommendations to the City Council by March 1, 2012, only after receiving public input regarding the redrawing of Board district lines.
The LAUSD Redistricting Commission has 15 members. Four were appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Four were appointed by local Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti during his tenure as City Council President. The seven members of the School Board appointed one member each. On July 1, 2012, the Redistricting Commission proposal will be voted on by the City Council to adopt the new school district boundaries.
The boundaries of these districts are re-drawn in an effort to make districts “as equal in population as possible and practicable such that communities have equal access to political representation”. Doug Wance, the commission’s executive director, said the panel “struggled to create minority-empowered districts of roughly 640,000 people each that also retained Communities of Interest and school attendance areas.
The 15-member LAUSD Redistricting Commission takes into consideration census data factors as population, language characteristics, employment and income level, educational background, culture, and other common interests as it determines the area each elected school board member will represent. Of the 15 Redistricting Commissioners, four are African American. Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte appointed Dermont Givens; Council Member Garcetti appointed Jimmie Woods-Gray (also elected Vice Chair); Mayor Villaraigosa appointed Shannon Lawrence; and Bennett Kayser appointed Mark Lewis.
There are also certain legal parameters that govern the LAUSD redistricting process. Equal Population Principle: Board Districts must contain, as nearly as practicable, equal portions of the total LAUSD population. This principle is established in the City Charter and also by the U.S. Supreme Court “One Person, One Vote” decisions. U.S. Constitution Equal Protection Clause: The U.S. Supreme Court holds that race cannot be considered as the predominant factor in determining district boundaries. Voting Rights Act of 1965: Redistricting plans must be analyzed under the Voting Rights Act to ensure that they do not deprive minority voters with equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
When asked about the re-districting process School Board Member LaMotte stated “During the final week of African American History Month, we, of African descent, must continue to recognize the astute, wise, intelligent, skilled, and talented members of our Los Angeles VILLAGE to do what results in what is in our best interest. In following this principle, I sought assistance from our Los Angeles Village and specifically Mr. Willis Edwards of the NAACP. Mr. Edwards recommended the use and services of a gentleman who volunteered unceasingly and with dedication in the interest of our students and constituents. He worked with my staff members, Reverend Jewett Walker and Damien Goodman, consistently to reach this goal. I commend and thank them for their work and for making the city, Redistricting Commissioners, and the Los Angeles Unified School District, realize that the Los Angeles VILLAGE is still alive and fighting to keep its history alive, authenticated, and valued. With sincerest appreciation and respect, I asked Commissioner Givens to write the following for the Sentinel from a first-person point of view. I did not edit; however, I personally ask that you contact your council member to ask him or her to support this map for approval, CV1 – we have fought for it, we deserve it, we have earned it.”
School Board Member LaMotte successfully preserved and strengthened the African-American hold on District 1.
At a meeting on Wednesday February 22, 2012 the City of Los Angeles Redistricting Commission for the Los Angeles School Board voted to accept map CV1 as the map which will be forwarded to the Los Angeles City Council on March 1 for final approval.
A brochure for the LAUSD Redistricting process states that “the 2010 U.S. Census shows that the Latino community in Los Angeles County is almost 50% of the total population. In the LAUSD, Latino children are nearly 75% of the total population, accounting for nearly three out of every four students.”
Accordingly, “the new district lines for the LAUSD must be drawn to allow Latino communities to remain together, so that they can elect a candidate of their choice, who will bring resources to their schools.”
In Board Member LaMotte’s District 1, considered to be a predominately African American district, each mapping actually increased or maintained a majority African American voting percentage.
There has been criticism that the public wasn’t sufficiently informed about the redistricting process or given enough time to analyze the proposed maps.
Executive Director Wance responded by stating “outreach was and is an issue when you’re trying to reach that many people.” Wance estimated that the panel spent about $120,000 of its $650,000 budget on community relations.
At the last public meeting held on Thursday, February 23, the Redistricting Commission attempted to pass a motion to hold the final public meeting at 10:00AM rather than 6:00PM as advertised. Commissioner Jimmy Woods-Gray objected indicating that the change in time would prohibit the public’s opportunity to participate in the process because most people work during that time. After extensive public comment supporting Woods-Gray objection, including comments from Board Member LaMotte, the Redistricting Commission maintained the originally scheduled meeting.
The last public meeting to announce the presentation and adoption of report for final map was held on Feb. 29th at 6pm at the LAUSD Office, located at 333 S. Beaudry Ave, Los Angeles.