LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy said a principal who gave Alex Caputo-Pearl permission to take unpaid time off to campaign for president of the teachers union, UTLA, has been disciplined.
The action came in response to accusations that the leave, a violation of district’s contract with UTLA, provided Caputo-Pearl an unfair advantage over other candidates by allowing him to campaign during school hours.
Caputo-Pearl is one of nine men challenging Warren Fletcher, who is seeking a second three-year term.
“First neither I nor any administrator at Beaudry approved any leave for Mr. Caputo-Pearl or any other UTLA candidate. I believe his principal may have done such,” Deasy said in an email. “A letter was sent to Mr. Fletcher notifying him of the situation. And the principal has been disciplined. The letter further clarified that our interpretation (long standing) of the contract was that such a practice is prohibited.”
While Caputo-Pearl defended his campaigning, pointing to Fletcher’s ability to do the same as the incumbent, the district finally ordered him to stop.
Yet as tomorrow’s deadline approaches for UTLA members to mail in their ballots for elective positions this year, accusations of cheating persist.
Several of the candidates for president have suggested that Deasy granted Caputo-Pearl permission as a way to influence the election — never mind that Caputo-Pearl has been as critical as any candidate of Deasy and his policies.
No candidate has focused more attention on the issue than David Garcia, whose campaign is aimed at rooting out “corruption” by ousting Fletcher and all who serve with him.
Garcia has been particularly suspicious of an October dinner Deasy had with six union area chairs who are also Union Power members, suggesting that conversations that night led a wink from the district, that Union Power members would be allowed to campaign during school hours. With permission or not, some did while other candidates who sought time off to campaign were denied.
Fletcher has filed an unfair practice complaint against the district with the state Public Employment Relations Board, charging that the district bypassed official union representatives by engaging in discussions with other union members.
Garcia, in a March 9 email to the UTLA election committee and 60 other recipients, including the New Yorker, Mother Jones, the Washington Post and People magazine, wrote in the subject line: “RAMPANT CHEATING IN L.A. TEACHER’S UNION, CITY WIDE ELECTIONS”
Here’s what he said, in part:
“The union power slate has been visiting campuses since September of last year, ok? These same individuals had a dinner ‘meeting’ with the Superintendent, although what they talked about, no one knows for certain…. While its (sic) purely speculation on my part, its (sic) possible that the Superintendent met with these people to voice his dissatisfaction in Warren Fletcher ——and to encourage these people to run for office…still with me?
“Union Power has several candidates who are chapter chairs and who are also running for UTLA leadership positions…These same people, who are running for Union Power positions AND in positions of authority within the union were also the same individuals who allowed Alex Pearl to ‘visit’ their school sites, ok?”
In his email, Deasy wrote: “Wow. Not even sure how one constructs such a narrative.”
Deasy went on to write that the dinner included “several area chairs” but not Caputo-Pearl. He said the issue of campaigning “never came up,” and the conversation “dealt with local issues like parent trigger and some very specific valley school climate issues.”
He did not name the principal who was disciplined.
In a March 6 email, to the UTLA election committee and its members, Garcia repeated his accusation of the district “ ‘unfairly influencing a UTLA election’ by allowing certain candidates to miss work and prohibiting others from doing the same.”
He further suggests in the same email that the district gave the Union Power members an unfair advantage by paying the substitutes who took over for them while they were campaigning.
The district did not respond to questions about another of Garcia’s suspicions, that if substitutes were called in while candidates were out campaigning, the district was making a “campaign contribution” to Union Power by paying for the substitutes.
As eager as he has been raising the issues at candidate forums and in emails, Garcia did not respond to a series of questions from LA School Report, seeking elaboration on his accusations.
Previous Posts: LA Unified teachers union race gets national attention; Misunderstood election rules cause friction among UTLA candidates; At a UTLA candidate forum, issues break out within the mudslinging.