As the council debates borders amidst noisy meetings, LAUSD quietly reconfigures
While the City Council redistricting process has been attracting hundreds of meeting attendees and considerable interest from community organizations, another redistricting process—that of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board—has been progressing in an almost unobserved manner.
The LAUSD redistricting web site (easily accessed through the home page at LACity.org) provides sketchy redistricting commission agendas, neither minutes nor videos of commission meetings, and a “contact form” that actually links to the City Council redistricting process.
School Board redistricting is, however, in full gear. Public hearings, which will allow parents, students and other interested community members to share their needs and wants, are being held this week in each of the seven board districts.
Northeast Los Angeles currently straddles two of the seven school board districts. District 2, currently represented by School Board President Mónica García, includes Lincoln and Wilson High Schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them. District 5, currently represented by board newcomer Bennett Kayser, includes Eagle Rock, Franklin and Marshall High Schools, the Sotomayor Learning Academies and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.
The hearing for District 5 will be held this Monday, February 6. This conflicts with the L.A. City Council redistricting hearing that is expected to draw hundreds of community members to Occidental College at the same time. Further, the LAUSD hearing is taking place at the farthest point in the district from Northeast L.A., in South Gate.
The District 2 hearing will be conducted the following evening, in Boyle Heights. Redistricting is conducted at all levels of government every 10 years in light of new census data. The LAUSD Redistricting Commission is mandated to create districts of close to equal population. In the past decade, district population has shifted toward the San Fernando Valley. As a result, both District 1 and District 5 will have to grow geographically to achieve population parity.
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.
Mónica García’s appointee is Amy Cooper, her former Deputy Chief of Staff (and a former Council District 14 staff member). Bennett Kayser’s appointee is Mark Lewis, a former Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Director of Field Operations.
The slack in outreach over the LAUSD redistricting process has been picked up primarily by The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). NALEO’s Educational Fund has put out a brochure promoting parental and neighborhood involvement in the process.
“The 2010 U.S. Census shows that the Latino community in Los Angeles County is almost 50% of the total population,” reads the brochure. “In the LAUSD, Latino children are nearly 75% of the total population, accounting for nearly three out of every four students.”
“The new district lines for the LAUSD must be drawn to allow Latino communities to remain together,” the brochure continues, “so that they can elect a candidate of their choice, who will bring resources to their schools.”
Draft maps of LAUSD districts will be released in mid-February. A final proposal from the LAUSD Redistricting Commission must be prepared by the end of the month. Final approval of the LAUSD map will lie with Los Angeles City Council.
A user-friendly tool for drawing a proposed version of a district map can be found at Www.redrawlausd.org
Monday, February 6,
South Gate High School
3351 Firestone Boulevard,
Tuesday, February 7,
Felizio Gonzalez Mendez Learning Center
1200 Plaza Del Sol Street
Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission
Draft Map Hearing
Monday, February 6,
Occidental College Thorne Hall