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TAKEOVER OF LAUSD ENCOURAGED MAYOR APPEALS TO PARENTS.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

EL SERENO - Shifting his campaign for LAUSD reform, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday appealed to parents for their support and said he will resume his previous proposal to take over governance of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

After several weeks of vacillating on the issue, Villaraigosa said he now has decided that mayoral control is the only way to affect reform and his advisers are looking at legal options and requirements.

With more than 100 parents and students at Farmdale Elementary School - where he opened the 147th L.A.'s BEST after-school program - Villaraigosa said parents should not accept the current education system.

``I know your kids can get more. I am looking to you to form a partnership to reform the schools. I think we need to make a fundamental change. I think the best way we can do that is to have one person in charge,'' he said.

At the very least, a vote by all those in the LAUSD - which includes 26 other cities - would be needed to change how the nation's second-largest school district is operated.

``It is very difficult,'' Villaraigosa said. ``And it's not something that will happen overnight. But we need to make a governance change. I will not be deterred in this.''

School board members have been opposed to the mayor's plan, urging him instead to concentrate on student safety and pre- and after-school programs such as L.A.'s BEST.

Villaraigosa has lent his support to both of those and, in an inaugural gala, raised $2.4 million for L.A.'s BEST that helped fund its expansion this year.

The mayor picked up some support from the city's newest councilman, Jose Huizar, who still serves on the Board of Education and was elected Nov. 8 to complete Villaraigosa's term on the City Council.

``I don't know if I'm ready to back full mayoral control, but I agree that something drastic needs to be done,'' Huizar said. ``We cannot allow the schools to continue to operate as they have.''

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said he continues to oppose a mayoral takeover, but added that he does not want to be drawn into a debate with the mayor.

``We all have the same goal of improving the schools and I think it is happening, although more needs to be done,'' Duffy said. ``I don't think (a mayoral takeover) works. But, what I would like to do it talk directly with the mayor to discuss some ideas we have and see where we can come together.''

Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390

rick.orlov(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 19, 2005
Words:442
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