Several holdover members of the D.C. Board of Education predicted yesterday that the deadlock in choosing a board president will be broken this week by filling the post with a longtime member, not a newcomer.
The holdover members, who were in oposing factions on last year's board, said they were determined to block a bid for the presidency by Eugene Kinlow, one of four new members elected Nov. 6 with endorsements from Mayor Marion Barry.
Barry sat in the audience at Hine Junior High School on Capitol Hill, watching the first two ballots Friday in which Kinlow and last year's board vice president, Carol Schwartz, were tied with four votes each. Kinlow's entire support came from the new Barry-backed bloc. A third candidate, holdover member Barbara Lett Simmons, had three votes.
Six votes from the 11 school board members are needed to elect a president for a one-year term. The president presides over board meetings and acts as its spokesman.
At issue, Simmons declared, is the autonomy of the nonpartisan school board from the politics of the city government. "The mayor was there to see what his 'marionettes' were doing," she told a reporter, making a verbal play on the mayor's first name.
A total of 12 identical 4-4-3 votes were taken by shows of raised hands over a six-hour period before the exhausted board members agreed at 10:30 p.m. to adjourn until Wednesday to try again. During the six hours, the board recessed for periods up to 90 minutes for inconclusive back-room caucuses.
Despite the intensity of the rivalries, discussions in public were generally good-natured and cordial.
During the caucuses, a number of straw votes were taken, with Schwartz-supporter Calvin Lockridge emerging as the strongest compromise prospect, teamed with Frank Shaffer-Corona for vice president. But board members said this ticket failed to win more than five prospective votes because of resistance of Shaffer-Corona by Schwartz and others.
Shaffer-Corona, the board's only Hispanic member, is controversial because of what are widely regarded as extreme leftist positions in education and in national and international affairs.
Schwartz and Simmons predicted in separate interviews that the straw votes taken in the caucuses would have no lasting effect when the board reconvenes and tries to break the deadlock at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Brookland Elementary School, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street NE.
Simmons and Shaffer-Corona, who nominated her, agreed with Schwartz and Alaire B. Riefiel, a Schwartz supporter, that the new president would be chosen from among the longtime members rather than newcomers. Other board sources who declined the use of their names made a similar point.
By not breaking ranks in Friday's voting, Rieffel said, "the mayor's people . . . are just stonewalling. They make sanctimonious speeches about how we (on the board) should be flexible, and they're not."
"I think we'll have it together by Wednesday," Shaffer-Corona said. "I can tell you one thing: it won't be Kinlow."
Kinlow was first elected to the board last May to fill a short-term vacancy. He was elected to a full four-year term Nov. 6.
Kinlow said yesterday that he knew of no new developments affecting his candidacy or support. He said The Washington Post "did me no favor" by editorially endorsing his candidacy on Friday morning, only hours before the voting was scheduled.
Both Lockridge and Shaffer-Corona publicly denounced The Post's editorial, calling it an attempt to manipulate the board.
Schwartz insisted to a reporter later tha the editorial made no difference in the voting lineup, but may have hardened individual positions.
Until a new president is chosen, Schwartz, as the outgoing vice president, will serve in the presidency. Patricia Evans Miner, executive secretary to the board, presides over the meetings at which the votes are taken.
In Friday's voting, Schwartz was backed by Rieffel, Lockridge and John A. Warren; Kinlow by Frank Smith Jr., Linda Cropp and Nathaniel Bush, and Simmons by Shaffer-Corona and Bettie Benjamin.
Before the voting began, the six re-elected and newly elected board members were sworn into office. A picture caption published yesterday incorrectly identified Shaffer-Corona as one of five persons taking the oath. The picture actually was that of Frank Smith Jr.
The sixth member, Bettie Benjamin, who was not pictured, was sworn in separately by D.C. City Council member Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large).