Some criticize effort to oust LAUSD superintendent

Civic leaders continue to talk openly and privately about a reportedly botched effort by Los Angeles Unified's school board president to oust Superintendent David Brewer before the end of his contract. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more on the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The school board was supposed to discuss a personnel agenda item in closed session on Tuesday. The day before, an e-mail made the rounds. It urged African-American civic leaders and L.A. Unified administrators to voice their support for Superintendent Brewer.

Larry Aubry, a writer and education consultant for L.A. County's Human Relations Commission, received that e-mail. Since then, he's heard an earful.

Larry Aubry: People I've encountered, for the most part, don't think that much of Brewer – I'm talking about black folks – don't think that much of Brewer. But on the other hand they say wait a minute, what's this process all about?

Guzman-Lopez: School Board President Monica Garcia was reportedly behind the effort to oust Brewer. The board's only African-American member was away at a long-scheduled education conference in San Diego. Aubry says those circumstances upset many people.

aubry: It's up front politicized, and frankly, to be honest, the backdrop for all of this are strained relations between blacks and Latinos, and a mutual distrust.

Guzman-Lopez: Aubry says the scuttlebutt among blacks casts L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as an influential player behind the scenes of this drama. Neither Villaraigosa nor board president Garcia would comment.

Superintendent Brewer told KPCC's "Patt Morrison" he's accomplished a great deal halfway through his four-year appointment, and he isn't thinking about what's motivating the people who reportedly want him out.

Superintendent David Brewer: I want the city to stay whole. I'm not, I don't want to get into any ethnic issues. I think that's divisive. I think that will hurt the city, it will hurt the school board, school district, but more importantly, it will hurt children.

Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified's grand scale may be unique among American public school districts, says Claremont Graduate University education professor Charles Kerchner. But its governance problems are not.

Charles Kerchner: The story of urban education over the last 30 to 40 years is that the superintendency changes when there's a change in the school board membership, and clearly in this last election there was a change in the composition of the school board.

Guzman-Lopez: Councilwoman Janice Hahn, vice-chair of the L.A. City Council's education committee, says she can propose a fix for that.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn: Maybe the process is wrong. Maybe, again, we ought to look at electing the superintendent and let the people be responsible for choosing the next superintendent, and have the superintendent be accountable to the people and not to this part-time school board.

Guzman-Lopez: Hahn says that change would require an amendment to L.A.'s city charter. Her colleague on the council, Bernard Parks, says he's open to the idea because a lot of blacks, Latinos, others keep asking him, "What's the trouble with the L.A. Unified School District?"