STATEMENT ON MARGUERITE POINDEXTER LAMOTTE
Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic and Superintendent Dr. John Deasy issued a joint statement today on the passing of Board Member Marguerite Poindexter Lamotte.
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy expressed his profound sorrow as he praised Los Angeles Board of Education Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who passed away today in San Diego.
“Ms. Marguerite LaMotte dedicated her life to the students of LA Unified. She advocated passionately and without apology for all students,” Deasy said. “She was a fighter for civil rights and for quality education.”
“She will be missed by her former students, her fellow teachers and principals, by the members of the Board and the entire Los Angeles Unified School District family,” the superintendent added.
Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic worked for years with Marguerite LaMotte when they were principals of schools in L.A. Unified, before they were elected to serve as Board Members. “She was my dear friend, colleague and inspiration. She was always a terrific educator, always committed to ‘her babies,’ which is what she called her students. Her rich experiences as a teacher and principal informed her decisions. She never stopped fighting for them on the school board,” he said.
Board Vice President Steve Zimmer commented, “I am heartbroken at the loss of my friend, my mentor and my colleague in the lifework of raising the lives of children throughout Los Angeles. She was my strength, my wisdom, and my conscience whenever I wavered. There is not a member of the LAUSD family not touched by this loss. Ms. LaMotte was an education pioneer throughout her life. The students, teachers, principals and staff of the District have lost their greatest champion.”
“Years ago, I attended a board meeting as a teacher/UTLA member. I vividly remember watching Marguerite speak up for teachers and I so admired her. I was so grateful for her endorsement and support during my election. I was touched that at my swearing in, she gave flowers to my mother. After my election, she took me under her wing and provided support and guidance. She consistently called it like she saw it. She believed in treating people like professionals but never wavering from the fact that we are here for one reason only - to support and uplift our students - all our students. I will miss her tremendously,” Board Member Mónica Ratliff said.
Board Member Bennett Kayser said, “Ms. LaMotte was a large part of the reason we still have a democratically elected school board in Los Angeles. As one who was denied the right to vote in her home state of Louisiana, she more than anyone valued the importance of freely elected school board members and was a true civil rights leader. I will miss her and vow to continue her efforts to include standard English language learners in curriculum discussions.”
“Ms. LaMotte fought for what she believed in every day,” said Board Member Mónica García. “Her life work broke barriers for people of color, women, and children. She will always be remembered as someone who cared deeply about her community and dedicated herself to lifelong learning.”
“I mourn the passing of a colleague and friend, who tirelessly and passionately advocated for the children of Los Angeles, and the employees of this District. Today I honor her, and will carry on her efforts to fight for social justice in this city and our schools,” said Board Member Tamar Galatzan.
First elected in 2003, Marguerite LaMotte represented Board District 1, which stretched from parts of South and Southwest Los Angeles, including the Crenshaw District, pushing up against the boundaries of Beverly Hills, Culver City and Inglewood. Re-elected, she was serving her third term.
Her numerous accomplishments included: Closing the achievement gap between African American students and others; addressing the dropout rate; pursuing additional resources for instruction; seeking physical improvements such as the new auditorium and gymnasium at Dorsey High School and the construction of a number of new schools, such as Knox Elementary, throughout her district.
As a veteran educator, she began her career with LA Unified in the classroom at Drew Middle School in 1973, and quickly moved up, working as head counselor of Edison Junior High, and as principal of Horace Mann Jr. High. She promoted to senior administrative positions, but in 1991 returned to her first love, a school. In her last position with the District, she served for ten years as the principal of Washington Preparatory High School, where she was lauded for raising student achievement.