School Choice & Charters

Charter-Backed Candidates Win Two Seats on Los Angeles School Board

By Denisa R. Superville — May 17, 2017 1 min read
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Two charter-school-backers defeated union-backed candidates on Tuesday to take two seats on the Los Angeles school board in an expensive and heated battle that drew large sums of money from outside the district.

It was the most expensive school board race in the country—more than $13 million was spent through May12, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the end, charter-backed candidates Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez defeated two-term incumbent Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla.

Zimmer, the president of the Los Angeles school board who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, said he won’t run for office again, according to the Los Angeles Times.

With the two newest members, charter school backers now make up a majority of the seven-member school board in the nation’s second-largest school district.

About 16 percent of LAUSD students attend charter schools.

Zimmer had said he prefers some limits on charter school growth and wanted to ensure that the charters and district schools that already exist are working to provide high-quality programs, the LA Times reported. During his time on the board, Zimmer voted to approve and renew most charter schools applications before the board during his tenure, according to the paper.

He got more than $2.5 million in support from labor, including the United Teachers Los Angeles and other union supporters, including the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association.

Melvoin said that he would not limit charter school growth, the paper said. He got about $5.69 million from charter supporters, according to the paper.

Both Melvoin and Zimmer are Democrats.

What does this mean for superintendent Michelle King’s future at LAUSD? It’s not clear, according to the Los Angeles Times.

King, a long-time LAUSD educator, took the job just over a year ago. But as we have seen recently—in Howard County, Md., Jefferson County, Ky., and St. Paul, Minn.,—new school board majorities have acted swiftly to get rid of superintendents with who may not share their agenda.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.