It has been 296 days since Ref Rodriguez pleaded guilty to felony charges and was forced from the Board District 5 seat. During this time, students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board District 5 have had no representation. Considering the fact that their former board member’s crimes were directly related to his election, these constituents have not been represented fairly since the day that Rodriguez took office.
During the time that the LAUSD Board District 5 has sat empty:
- The LAUSD was disrupted by a teachers’ strike.
- The School Board voted to eliminate rules that were meant to protect students from predators.
- The Superintendent presided over a secret plan to reorganize the district, eliminated library aides from some elementary schools, and hired a scandal-plagued former state assemblyman as a District lobbyist.
- Board Member Nick Melvoin’s Rules Committee worked behind closed to doors to craft a plan that would reduce the public’s speaking time at board meetings.
- Dozens of charters were approved.
- At least two charter schools stranded students by closing down in the middle of the school year.
- Waste and corruption by charter school operators went unpunished.
Last August, Board Member Scott Schmerelson offered a resolution that would have given these constituents representation by appointing former LAUSD Board Member, city councilperson and California Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, to the seat until an election could be held. However, after a meeting poisoned by bigotry, the Board Members backed by the charter industry sided with Board Member Richard Vladovic and voted to leave one-seventh of the District’s stakeholders unrepresented.
While Goldberg had promised not to run in the special election if she had been appointed at the August Board Meeting, the “No” vote by Melvoin, Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez, and Vladovic meant she was free to declare her candidacy. In the primary that was held in March, Goldberg won 48.18% of the vote. However, since no candidate took over 50%, a runoff was held yesterday. In preliminary results, Goldberg won 71.62% of the vote. Less than three hours after the polls closed, her opponent, Heather Repenning, called Goldberg to concede the election.
The students of Board District 5 should not have to wait any longer to be represented. While it will take around 30 days for the clerk’s office to certify the results of the election, Goldberg needs to fill the empty Board District 5 seat immediately. At the first opportunity, the LAUSD Board needs to reconsider Schmerelson’s August resolution they originally rejected and appoint Ms. Goldberg to the board temporarily until the election is finalized.
The constituents of Board District 5 have been unrepresented for long enough. They overwhelmingly chose Jackie Goldberg as Ref Rodriguez’ successor, and it’s now time for every LAUSD board member to accept the outcome and respond accordingly. The voters’ will should be immediately recognized with Goldberg taking her place on the board.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.