The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education has named seven people to serve on the search committee that will assist board members in choosing the next superintendent of schools.

Search committee members will screen applicants for the district’s top administrative job and narrow the field to a select group of finalists.

Board members will then interview each finalist and select a chief official to replace Superintendent Roy Romer, who plans to retire after leading the district through six years of “extraordinary progress,” school district officials said.

School board president Marlene Canter noted that search committee members were chosen after an extensive review of potential candidates by the board of education.

“The school board chose these individuals for their integrity, their passion and their knowledge of business, education and community,” Canter said. “They are charged with a great and honorable task — helping the board find the next world-class leader for Los Angeles Unified.

“We thank them in advance for this service.”

The seven search committee members are:

– Benjamin Chu, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California;

– Martha Escutia, California State Senator for the 30th District, and now serving as the first woman chair of the California Legislative Latino Caucus;

– Ron Gastelum, executive vice president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and a retired president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California;

– Robert Lawton, president of Loyola Marymount University and a member of the board of directors of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles;

– Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union and a labor activist since 1965;

– Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Association and a former chief consultant and staff director for the Senate Committee on Education; and

– Mark Ridley-Thomas, California Assembly Democratic Caucus chairman and representative for the 48th District, current Democratic candidate for Senate District 26 and a former Los Angeles City Councilman for nearly a dozen years.

“This distinguished group represents a cross-section of our community,” school board vice president Jon Lauritzen said. “This district requires a leader who is sensitive to the needs of our extremely diverse population.

“I am confident that search committee members will bring their deep understanding of the Los Angeles area to the table to select the best candidates for final board approval.”

The independent firm hired by the school board — Hamilton, Rabinovitz and Alschuler — is currently recruiting candidates and soliciting applications through a nationwide search.

The position description, which was crafted based on feedback from a community survey, also will be advertised in newspapers, magazines and educational and scholarly journals.

Superintendent Romer was recruited and selected to lead LAUSD in July 2000 through a similar process.