Understanding Equity is a community member and resident of Los Angeles Unified School District who is part of K12NN’s watchdog network. Events occurring during this 2015 school board race prompted the following resolution which LAUSD’s current school board should adopt to raise the level of debate and improve the quality of candidates.
Whereas the LAUSD school board must elect new board members every two years:
Be it resolved that:
All candidates, including incumbents, must adhere to the exact same set of rules and that board policies are adjusted to include:
- Candidates for the board make a commitment to demonstrate the highest integrity and ethical behavior at all times and at all public events, campaign related or not.
- The superintendent and sitting board members should review all campaign materials and denounce any and all that are based on innuendos, racial or religious slurs or those relating to a person’s disability. Any and all other statements that can be easily determined to be false and without direct supporting evidence must also be publicly denounced and have their source identified.
- To increase transparency relating to contributions, the LAUSD website should include a link to the LA City Ethics Commission to make it easy to view donors to the campaigns. The website of the CA Secretary of State should also be included to allow the public to view the names of the contributors to the independent expenditure committees.
- No incumbent should be allowed to have a “news brief” aired by LAUSD’s own KLCS TV station on his or her own behalf in close proximity to an election to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
- No candidates, including incumbents, should be allowed to attend open community meetings such as neighborhood councils or residents’ associations three months before an election unless the other candidates are given ample notice and are also invited to attend.
- No candidate should be eligible to run for LAUSD Board of Education if they have recently, within 5-10 years, launched, been hired by or are on the board of any charter school within the physical boundaries of LAUSD to avoid the actual or the appearance of a conflict of interest in the approval process for LAUSD charter schools.
- All candidates, incumbent and otherwise, must make a written commitment to serve their full term of 4 years unless illness or other major events make it impossible or unless they are recalled or are found to be guilty of criminal or unethical behavior. A board seat that is vacated early could result in LAUSD incurring millions to replace that board member through a special election.
- All candidates and sitting board members must receive training regarding their role and responsibilities involved in the selection and approval of members of the Bond Oversight Committee.
- Board members should attend all school board meetings, including committees set up by the board president. If board members are unwilling or unable to attend the majority of these meetings, a policy must be put in place to seek a permanent remedy in order to assure that their constituents are fairly represented.
Be it further resolved that the members of the LAUSD Board of Education, who represent all school-aged children and their parents within the city of Los Angeles, are therefore expected to set the highest example of ethical behavior and to disassociate themselves with any individual, group or organization that fails to meet these same high standards.
If the above recommendations are implemented, candidates can then focus on the issues at hand and provide the public with fair and accurate information to assist them in making their choice for a seat on the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education.