The death of Marguerite LaMotte left a vacant seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board that should be filled by someone elected by the District in a special election.
The LAUSD board could decide this week whether to appoint someone to fill LaMotte’s seat until the middle of next year, when her term would have ended, or whether to call a special election, which would be held in a few months. Afterwards, the person elected would still have to stand for election in 2015.
We believe that the parents and residents of District 1 are the only people who can decide, in an election, who will be their representative on the LAUSD board.
Those opposed to this special election cite the high cost of the election and the fact that there is currently no District 1 representation on the LAUSD board.
In principle, a special election follows a long tradition in the LAUSDsince 1966 there has been a preference for voter participation over arbitrary appointments by the board. LaMotte herself even favored the special election process, as occurred in 2005 when current Council member, José Huizar, left his seat on the school board.
At the same time, the argument made regarding the high price for an election (nearly one million dollars) with low turnout and interests at stake, is a criticism of a general election system that is not valid for this case. It shows a lack of respect to voters to say that the current cost of democracy is too high to listen to the will of the people.
Finally, it is true that the LAUSD is addressing important issues. All issues related to student learning are important, as is the direct representation of students’ parents through their elected representatives.
The LAUSD has already established a way to deal with its vacant seats so that students’ interests are represented. This is through special elections.