School board blocks appointee critical of iPads
Vanessa Romo | May 20, 2014
What is normally a routine, no-questions-asked formality for the LA Unified School Board hit a snag today.
The board effectively blocked Magruder’s reappointment by removing him from a resolution. That will leave the 15 member BOC, an independent body formed to oversee bond money used to build and repair schools, with an empty seat.
“It’s not unprecedented but this doesn’t usually happen,” Jefferson Crain, LA Unified Board Secretariat, said of the board’s move.
An architect, Magruder has served one term as an appointee nominated by the American Institute of Architects Association. Throughout his tenure, he has strongly opposed the use of bond funds for buying instructional materials including the district’s controversial and expensive iPad program.
Speaking out against Magruder, Galatzan said, “I just don’t think he’s the right person for that role. I think he’s overstepped his bounds…I think he’s overstepped his expertise on the Bond Oversight Committee.”
She told the board, who had just minutes earlier approved the reappointment, that Magruder often used his time during BOC meetings to expound on curriculum and instruction matters, and she urged her colleagues to rescind their support.
“I’m not going to be supporting him and I think we can find other people in our vast community who are a little more open-minded,” Galatzan said.
At a BOC meeting in March Magruder said, “We are spending roughly a $100 million on software for the iPads, which I guess is supposed to be a text book, which is actually not really being used very much as far as I can tell with my daughter’s experience at Palms Middle School.”
“That to me is really problematic,” he continued. “We’re throwing away $100 million on something that is not being used and is certainly not something we’re supposed to be paying for with construction bond funds.” (see video here)
Magruder’s term expired on May 8. However, a lawyer for the group suggested they are seeking alternatives for resubmitting Magruder for consideration.
In a 4-1 vote, the board agreed to reappoint Barry Waite, of the California Tax Reform Association to the BOC. Board member Monica Ratliff abstained while Board member Steve Zimmer was the only dissenting vote.
The board did not take any other actions during the board meeting.