As the father of two daughters who are on the autism spectrum, I was astonished while I sat in the LAUSD Board meeting on March 8, 2016, and heard Mónica García declare that she did not represent children with special education needs:
“When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?”
Knowing that all children deserve to be represented on the LAUSD’s Board, including the 12.7% that are enrolled in special education programs, my decision to run against García in the election on March 7, 2017, became finalized. Unlike the incumbent, I will not declare that there are “people I represent most” or vote to continue fighting parents in court. I understand that all children are unique and they all have a right to meet their full potential. I have not lost sight that a student in need of vocational training is just as important to the District as the student who will go on to college after graduation or that a well-rounded education requires access to art and music classes along with the academic subjects.
Mónica García has been on the LAUSD Board for ten years and for six of those years she has served as President of the Board. Yet, on September 20, 2016, she gave herself a failing report card:
”So I believe our biggest problem is that most of our kids, all of our kids, can't read.”
However, instead of insulting the capabilities of our District’s students, García should have looked inward to find the obstacles that she has placed in their way. Where was the incumbent as “aging pipes and fountains made of lead” were allowed to continue “leaching tiny particles of the toxic metal directly into water” for seven years after a television news report initially highlighted the situation? Where was her supervision of Superintendent John Deasy as he waited for a judge to rule that students “continue to suffer severe and pervasive educational deprivations” before getting help to resolve the MiSiS Crisis? Did she provide any oversight as the LAUSD unbelievably rehired a lawyer who argued “that an 8th grader who has...sex with a teacher learns maturity from the experience”? As the District faces severe deficits that are being fueled by declining enrollment, why does she continue to refer to charters as the District’s partners? If she is “not sure [that she] can be a productive member of this group at this point”, why is she even running for re-election?
Unlike others who have held a seat on the LAUSD school board, I do not see it as a stepping stone to higher political office. I have experienced the dysfunction of the district and know that the system needs to change. After speaking to other parents, teachers, classified staff and community members, I know that my feelings and experiences are not unique. My candidacy is about using my talents and experience to find solutions.
In 1988 I moved to Los Angeles from the suburbs of New York to attend Musician’s Institute. After receiving my vocational certificate, I settled into my life, got married, and raised two children (Becca and Jessie). Eventually, I continued the education I had begun at Pace University, getting a degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.
My first full-time job was at J. B. Chemical Company where I worked my way up from the factory floor to General Manager. After 15 years, I took a chance and left the security of this job to advance my career at a small startup company, Unified Dispatch, LLC. Shortly afterward I was invited by Arecont Vision to manage their Operations Department as they progressed from development to production of high-definition security cameras. At the time I was hired, there was only one other employee. Twelve years later we have over 150 employees worldwide and manufacture our cameras in Glendale. I am currently their Director of Logistics.
Life does not always go the way we plan and in 2006 I found myself in the new role of single father. This was followed by the pleasant surprise of falling in love again and marrying Nicole in a clandestine ceremony at Disneyland. As an added bonus, I became a father to Nicole’s triplets, Sydney, Zoey and Morgan.
In addition to work, family responsibilities and activism, I have also played drums in several local bands. I love the adventure of a good thrill ride and can often be found with the family at an amusement park. My blogs have been published in the Patch, OpEdNews and K-12 News Network. Our pack of dogs includes a foster for The Gentle Barn. Life is busy, chaotic and satisfying.
While Mónica García is not sure that she can be a productive member of the LAUSD Board of Education, I am ready to accept the challenge and serve my community. I look forward to the opportunity of serving all students.
I am a parent, special education advocate and a candidate in LAUSD’s District 2. Diane Ravitch called me a “strong supporter of public schools.” For additional information, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com.