LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Candidates for the vacant First District seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education squared off in a forum in South Los Angeles today, with three candidates calling for more funding.

“The Board of Education or the policy makers have to be focused on adequate resources not just some resources, but for the neediest children,” George McKenna, a retired school administrator, said at the forum organized by the National Action Network Los Angeles at Mt.MoriahBaptistChurch.

McKenna said he believes the neediest children are in the First District, where he has lived and worked for 50 years.

McKenna's work as principal of GeorgeWashingtonPreparatoryHigh School inspired the 1986 made-for-television movie, “The George McKenna Story,” which starred Denzel Washington as McKenna.

McKenna was also superintendent of the InglewoodUnifiedSchool District, deputy superintendent of the ComptonUnifiedSchool District,  assistant superintendent of secondary schools in the PasadenaUnifiedSchool District and Local District Superintendent of LAUSD's Board District 1.

Omarosa Manigault, who is known for her appearance on “The Apprentice,” said the “main focus” of her campaign “is children.”

“As a LAUSD certified substitute teacher that focuses on special education, I am in the classroom every day and my concern is that our students are in environments that are safe for them, that are clean, that are healthy and that they have the things that they need to succeed,” Manigault said.

Genethia Hudley-Hayes, a former board president, said she wants to focus on sufficiently funding classrooms.

“Sufficiency funding means that all schools that have been under resourced for 20 or 30 years now become fully resourced so that all of those students have an opportunity to have a teacher in the classroom who has wrap around services for those youngsters and she can do her job,” Hudley-Hayes said.

Candidates Hattie McFrazier and Alex Johnson also participated in the forum.   

The seat became vacant when board member Marguerite LaMotte died Dec. 5. The election will be held June 3. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held Aug. 12.


The district includes Cheviot Hills, HancockPark, Windsor Hills and parts of South Los Angeles and Gardena.