LAUSD Board Member, Fierce Teachers Union Ally Dies

Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who spent a decade on the LAUSD board and four decades as an educator in the district, has died at age 80.

LaMotte died in her sleep while she was in San Diego attending an education conference, district officials told The Los Angeles Daily News. Few other details about her death were available.

LaMotte was a lifelong educator who been working for the district in 1973 when she was assigned to Drew Junior High School. She worked as a counselor, principal and district administrator throughout in LAUSD. In 2003, she was elected to the board to represent District 1, which covers parts of South and Southwest Los Angeles.

The teachers union United Teachers Los Angeles praised LaMotte as someone who spoke from the heart, called students "our babies" and wasn't afraid to fight "on the front lines during her campaigns for school board."

UTLA President Warren Fletcher said in a statement, “Marguerite LaMotte personified all that is the best in this District and in public schools. She was kind and compassionate, and she saw everything through the lens of what is best for our children. The teachers and Health and Human Services professionals of LAUSD will miss her, both as a strong leader, and as a dedicated fellow educator."

She had testier relationships with superintendents and even her one-time ally Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who tried but failed to unseat her, according to the Los Angeles Times. LaMotte was the only board member who voted against giving Superintendent John Deasy a positive evaluation this October around the time it looked like he might step down.

Superintendent John Deasy and board president Richard Vladovic released a statement confirming her death and praising her work addressing the African America achievement gap and the dropout rate. Deasy called her "a fighter for civil rights and for quality education."

Board vice president Steve Zimmer said, "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."