July 23, 2018Press Release
UTLA calls on LAUSD to throw out all swing votes
LAUSD School Board member Ref Rodriguez resigned this morning, after pleading guilty in a downtown courtroom to a felony conspiracy charge and a series of misdemeanors for money laundering during his 2015 election campaign. Next, Rodriguez is expected to reach a $100,000 settlement with the City Ethics Commission.
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said of his apology in court today:
“‘I’m sorry’ does not cut it. Ref Rodriguez has been disingenuously hinting at his innocence for over a year. In the meantime, critical, long-lasting policies were decided, using his swing vote – including the 4-3 vote to begin the process of hiring investment banker Austin Beutner as superintendent. Therefore, UTLA demands that all 4-3 votes where Rodriguez cast the deciding vote be reconsidered or thrown out completely. Every vote he made on the school board was not in the interest of students or parents of LAUSD. He carried out the wishes of the wealthy elite, including the CEO of Netflix and the billionaire-backed California Charter Schools Association,” Caputo-Pearl said.
Ignoring an outcry from the community and parents for his resignation, Rodriguez refused to step down for almost one year. He should have done the right thing when allegations first came to light, Caputo-Pearl said.
“His ethically challenged behavior sets a bad example for our kids, but is great for CCSA and those who funded his legal battles,” Caputo-Pearl said. “These people have a plan to undermine LAUSD and public education. We must continue to fight this agenda.”
We reiterate our demand for a special election. The LAUSD School Board says it will move quickly to appoint a member to the board in the interim and will hold a special election eventually. We reiterate our demand for transparency in the process to bring about the appointment, and that it not be similar to the hiring of Supt. Austin Beutner, who was selected with little public input or oversight.
While awaiting the election, the appointee must be a true advocate for public education, not beholden to CCSA, and it must be someone who respects and values transparency and accountability. The appointee must be someone who supports the essential civic role of public school districts, and must be someone with experience in education, community, and politics, not someone who is learning on the job.
UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, represents more than 35,000 teachers and health & human services professionals in district and charter schools in LAUSD.