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Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte dies at 80

Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte (52267)
Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte

Los Angeles Unified School District board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte has died, a district spokeswoman said today. She was 80.

Monica Carazo of the LAUSD said details of LaMotte’s death were not immediately available. The Daily News reported that LaMotte died in San Diego while attending the annual convention of the California School Boards Association.

Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the following statement: “I’m saddened to learn of the passing of Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, an educator, administrator, and true trailblazer who dedicated her life to Los Angeles schools. She was a good friend, and my wife Amy and I offer our deepest condolences to her family, colleagues, and all of those who were touched by her tireless work on behalf of L.A.’s students.” A lifelong teacher, LaMotte was elected to the LAUSD board in 2003 and re-elected in 2007 and 2011. She previously taught at Drew Junior High School then moved to Edison Junior High School as head counselor. She was an assistant principal at Francis Polytechnic High School and became principal of Horace Mann Junior High School in 1984.

In 1988, she was named director of secondary instruction for one of the district’s regions, and was later promoted to region administrator of operations.

After two years, however, LaMotte said she wanted to return to a school-level position, so she took over as principal of Washington Preparatory HighSchool in 1991.

When she was just 18 years old, LaMotte was appointed director of Spaulding Business College in Baton Rouge, La., while simultaneously attending Southern University, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in education. She earned a master’s degree from Louisiana State University, where she became the first Black woman to serve as a visiting professor in the undergraduate school of education.

LaMotte held the District 1 seat on the LAUSD board, representing south and southwest Los Angeles. In the last few years, the educator has become the voice for the African American community in the school district.

Among her efforts in this directions was to hold an annual conference that focused to help attendees identify the roles of each stakeholder and then help them figure out how to carry out these responsibilities.

According to Carole Cobb, Ph.D., coordinator for the LAUSD English Mastery Program, “the idea behind the event was to give (parents, teachers, administrators, students and other stakeholders) a charge and a challenge.” Cobb noted in a 2010 article that one quest of the meeting was also to help people think about what they can do outside of their comfort zones and/or their paid assignments to impact student achievement, and then to actually take the steps needed to move forward.