As described by her ballot designation, LAUSD Board District 4 candidate Tracey Schroeder is an "LAUSD Teacher/Parent." According to Los Angeles City Clerk Holly L. Wolcott, Schroeder "attested to the accuracy of her occupational ballot designation" and did so "under penalty of perjury". However, questions have been raised as to the accuracy of this description.
Before the LAUSD Board voted last December to fire 496 staff members who had refused to comply with the vaccine mandate, Schroeder was one of the district employees who addressed the board. Disclosing that she was one of the teachers who had been removed from her school site, she pleaded with the board:
"I've got 24 years and I just want to be back on my school site with the students that I love, with the staff that I love, with the school that hired me. On behalf of all the teachers, please reconsider. There is natural immunity. There's choice. And there's no need for such extreme measures."
According to a parent who has a child enrolled in the school where Schroeder taught, the candidate is no longer employed by the district. In an email exchange with the candidate, Schroeder maintains that she is still employed by the district and is teaching at a virtual academy.
If Schroeder was, in fact, terminated during the month of December, then she is clearly not an "LAUSD Teacher." It would then be fraudulent for nominating petitions to be circulated that state that she is.
According to the City Clerk, her office "does not conduct an investigation into the information provided to [them] by those filing for candidacy." While giving potential candidates the benefit of the doubt is reasonable when no wrongdoing is alleged, it makes no sense to ignore claims that a misrepresentation has been made. It harms both the electorate that may be being denied important information and the candidate who must campaign under a cloud of suspicion. Furthermore, what good is an oath made "under penalty of perjury" if there is no mechanism in place to punish those who do not tell the truth?
Unfortunately, this is not the only problem with the information that is being presented to voters on the June ballot. The rules clearly state that candidates are limited to three words when describing their occupation or vocation. Both Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez are avoiding this limit by combining "board" and "member" into one word. When it was pointed out to the City Clerk that these are two separate words, Wolcott claimed that "the term 'Boardmember' has historically and consistently been considered one word for ballot designations in City and LAUSD elections." Apparently, a history of wrongdoing has made the practice acceptable. Two wrongs may not make a right, but, according to the City of Los Angeles, multiple wrongs do.
Even more concerning, both incumbents were allowed to list themselves as "educators" even though it has been years since either one of them has stepped foot in a classroom. Melvoin was laid off from his teaching position during the Great Recession and immediately went to law school. He is a lawyer, not an "educator." However, the City Clerk "accepts these designations at face value."
Voters should be able to have faith that the information on their ballot is correct and can count on this when making decisions about whom to vote for. However, with several misrepresentations on the June ballot, the electorate's need for accurate information is not being served. The City Clerk needs to better protect the integrity of our elections.
Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He is an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and serves as the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.