The LAUSD: A Primer

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the largest school district in the country that is governed by an elected school board. Only the New York City school district, which is under mayoral control, has more students. Los Angeles has more than 640,000 students enrolled in the district, attending over 900 schools that are spread out over 720 square miles. The District is also the largest authorizer of charters with over 130,000 students enrolled in about 250 independent and affiliated charters.

The District is broken into seven heavily gerrymandered districts. The Board Members representing odd numbered districts were elected last year. The nonpartisan primary election for the even numbered districts will be held on March 7, 2017. If a candidate wins over 50% of the vote, the election process ends. Otherwise, the top two vote getters will compete in the General Election on May 16, 2017. Normally, Board Members serve for four years, but due to a realignment of the elections to coincide with federal and state elections, the winners of this year’s election will serve for five and a half years.

The Board is generally divided by those who have been elected with the support of UTLA (the District’s teachers’ union) and those elected with the financial support of the charter industry. Currently, three members are seen as teacher supported (McKenna, Schmerelson and Zimmer); two are considered charter proponents (Garcia and Rodriguez); one had the support of both (Vladovic); and one was elected with the support of neither (Ratliff). Garcia and Zimmer are defending their seats next year and Ratliff is leaving the Board to run for City Council. I am running in District 2 against Garcia.