A narrow majority of Los Angeles Board of Education members voted Tuesday to set a limit of two consecutive years for the school board presidency. Unless the new rule is rescinded later, the decision would end the six-year run of current President Monica Garcia in July.
The board president has no greater authority than others on the seven-member panel, but runs the meetings and frequently represents the nation’s second-largest school system. Both supporters and critics have said Garcia wields an outsized influence on district policy and the use of district resources.
The school board elects its president every July to serve a one-year term.
A similar run at Garcia narrowly failed last year, but political factors outside the board room have evolved. Last year, the swing vote against term limits and to reelect Garcia came from Steve Zimmer.
Since then, however, close allies of Garcia targeted Zimmer for defeat in his recent reelection bid. Zimmer won regardless, when the teachers union and other employee groups rallied behind him. The teachers union, for its part, has been critical of Garcia. It mounted a low-budget but sharply critical campaign against her; she won reelection earlier this month.
The term-limits vote Tuesday symbolized the waning influence of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as his own eight-year tenure in office ends. Although the mayor has no formal authority over the board, candidates he helped elect make up a board majority. Garcia is the mayor’s closest ally on the board, and yet a member of mayor’s bloc, Richard Vladovic, defected to favor the term-limits proposal.
The motion, which was approved on a 4-3 vote, was put forward by Bennett Kayser and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. Supporters noted that since 1985, the board president has come from the downtown area and environs a significantly disproportionate number of times.