African-American civic leaders want say on new LA Unified superintendent

L.A. Unified's board of education was scheduled to deliberate in closed session yesterday about how to go about picking a replacement for exiting superintendent David Brewer. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says black civic leaders and L.A.'s mayor have something to say about how that process should work.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Fifteen African-American community leaders – including heads of civil rights groups, a newspaper editor, political activists, and a school board member – stood on the steps of L.A.'s Dorsey High School.

Marqueece Harris-Dawson: You see behind me black leadership in the city of Los Angeles united around the condition of children in our schools.

Guzman-Lopez: Marqueece Harris-Dawson of the Community Coalition said L.A. Unified's administrators have done little to turn around poor performance by black students. He says that should be a top priority for the next superintendent.

Blair Taylor of the L.A. Urban League says two-and-a-half years ago, the process that led to David Brewer's selection wasn't open enough.

Blair Taylor: If you want to bring in a new superintendent you need to make sure you've got the community's participation in that process.

Guzman-Lopez: The selection committee that picked Brewer included elected officials and a university president. Taylor says L.A. Unified's next superintendent should have deep roots in the city to rally civic help for schools more easily.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agrees. He wants a superintendent who can make significant changes more quickly.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: In order to reform a school district of this size and magnitude, you've got to have a leader who's bringing in a cadre of change agents, 15 to 20 people from around the country and within the school district who are willing to engage in reform.

Guzman-Lopez: School Board President Monica Garcia led the process to oust David Brewer. She's done little to explain why and how that happened. The school board's scheduled a closed session meeting on Tuesday to discuss replacing the superintendent.