L.A. Unified School District

James B. Taylor dies at 89; math teacher was one of L.A. Unified's first black principals

James B. Taylor, one of the Los Angeles Unified School District's first black principals — and a deputy superintendent during an era of integration controversies who lamented the intrusion of politics into education — died of congestive heart failure April 26 at his L.A. home. He was 89.

Taylor, an early advocate of magnet schools, began with the district as a math teacher at John Adams Middle School in the 1950s. He later broke racial barriers when he was appointed principal of predominantly white John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, then returned to South Los Angeles in 1967 to become the first principal of Locke High School.

Eventually, he ascended to...