LOS ANGELES (Aug. 26, 2014) – Today, Dr. George J. McKenna III —a retired superintendent, administrator, principal and teacher—was sworn into the Los Angeles School Board of Education representing District 1. He is filling the remaining term of former Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who died in December. The term ends on June 30, 2015.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, civil rights leader and founder of the Rainbow Coalition, did the swearing-in, while Congresswoman Maxine Waters held the Bible along with Danny Bakewell, Sr., entrepreneur, chairman of the Brotherhood Crusade and publisher of the black weekly newspaper, the Los Angeles Sentinel.
“This is an emotional experience for me,” the new board member said. “We are here for the right reasons to try to emancipate our children and our staff…. from anything that stands in the way of a quality education."
He held the funeral program of his predecessor, Board Member LaMotte, who also served as principal of Washington Prep. When he was principal of Washington Prep, he said, teachers sent their children to the inner city school, a vote of confidence.
He added, “Our children should not be seen as dangerous, as disposal or collateral damage: they all should be seen as precious.”
During the recent political campaign, when environmentalists asked his priority among “the world’s natural resources,” he told them, “My priority is children.”
Board Member McKenna began his career in L.A. Unified as a math teacher, and quickly moved up the ranks. During his tenure as principal of Washington Preparatory High School, he became nationally renowned for transforming the violence-prone, urban campus. Academic achievement improved, as did the graduation rate and the percentage of students who enrolled in college. As he rebuilt confidence in the school, parents who had shunned the campus, clamored to send their children there, resulting in a waiting list.
In L.A. Unified, he served twice as local district superintendent in charge of schools located in the southern region of the vast district, which stretches across 710 square miles. In addition, he also served as superintendent of the Inglewood Unified School District, deputy superintendent of the Compton Unified School District and assistant superintendent of Secondary Schools in the Pasadena Unified School District.
The school board is the governing body of the nation’s second-largest school district, which serves more than 650,000 students, including independent charter schools, in the city of Los Angeles, all or portions of 31 municipalities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
Contact: Gayle Pollard-Terry (213) 241-6766