Education A National Roundup

Mayor of L.A. Wins Fight for Say Over Schools

By Lesli A. Maxwell — September 06, 2006 1 min read

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s bid to assume some control over Los Angeles’ school system won final approval from the California legislature last week, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced again his intention to sign the measure into law.

The complex agreement calls for the elected school board, the superintendent, and other elected mayors whose cities lie within the boundaries of the Los Angeles Unified School District to share power. Its passage brings to an end a yearlong campaign by the mayor to gain a say over the 727,000-student school district.

Though he originally sought a more complete takeover, Mr. Villaraigosa, a Democrat, struck several compromises to turn opponents into supporters, including two powerful teachers’ unions. The measure passed the Senate on Aug. 28 and the Assembly the following day.

Mayor Villaraigosa and a “council of mayors” will have veto power over the hiring and firing of the superintendent, while the school board’s authority will largely be confined to negotiating union contracts. The Los Angeles mayor also will directly control three of the city’s worst high schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them—a provision of the plan that district officials believe may violate the state constitution and that they may challenge in court.

The measure, once signed by the Republican governor, is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

A version of this article appeared in the September 06, 2006 edition of Education Week