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Just 3 of 4 LAUSD school board candidates are expected to participate in Saturday’s forum

Sarah Favot | May 2, 2017



District 4’s Steve Zimmer and Nick Melvoin

It was going to be one of the only opportunities to see all four candidates for two LA Unified school board seats appear together ahead of the May 16 runoff election.

But organizers of Saturday’s forum on college readiness hosted by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles only expect board President Steve Zimmer and challenger Nick Melvoin who are running for the District 4 seat to attend. Kelly Gonez, who is running in District 6, will participate via Skype, and Imelda Padilla said she is a “maybe.” Organizers are moving ahead as though she will not attend.

Elmer G. Roldan, the United Way’s Director of Education Policy and Programs, said the District 6 candidates raised concerns about the event being held on a Saturday afternoon in downtown LA, which would require time away from campaigning in the district with just over a week left in the race. Because of that, Gonez decided to participate via Skype.

About 100 students have confirmed their attendance and Roldan said he expects about 150 to 200 people will attend.

The forum at United Way’s downtown offices at 1150 S. Olive St. will start at 2 p.m. by giving students opportunities to share their experiences involving access to college and graduating high school. Roldan said they want to hear from students who are on-track to go to college and from students who aren’t and what challenges they face.

The United Way has advocated for graduation requirements to be raised so that students must earn at least a C in all A-G courses, which is the minimum eligibility for entrance into a state public university. Two years ago the district decided to roll back the requirements so that students who earned a D could still graduate. Graduation rates have improved, but district data show only 47 percent of the graduating class of 2016 earned a C or better in all A-G courses. That means more than half of all 2016 graduates were not eligible for the state’s public universities.

The candidates have been invited to join the discussion at 3:30 p.m. Student moderators involved in the United Way’s Young Civic Leaders program will ask questions prepared by students and will take questions posed by audience members.

The students led candidate forums in all three districts ahead of the primary election in March. There were at least a half-dozen candidate forums for the candidates in the District 4 race ahead of the primary.  There were just two candidate forums in the District 6 race before the primary.

Saturday’s event is one of just a few candidate forums being held ahead of the runoff. Melvoin and Zimmer met in their first — and it appears only — one-on-one forum last week at University High School hosted by Westside Regional Alliance of Councils. Gonez and Padilla met Tuesday at a forum at PUC Triumph Charter High School in Sylmar.

Read about Tuesday’s debate: Gonez and Padilla meet in first and potentially only forum ahead of runoff election

Read LA School Report’s full series of coverage at LAUSD Race 2017.

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