Education

KPCC's LA school board candidate survey: Gregory Martayan, District 4

Gregory Martayan is running for the Los Angeles Unified School Board in the March 7 primary election. Martayan hopes to represent District 4, which covers much of west L.A., Hollywood and portions of the southwest San Fernando Valley.
Gregory Martayan is running for the Los Angeles Unified School Board in the March 7 primary election. Martayan hopes to represent District 4, which covers much of west L.A., Hollywood and portions of the southwest San Fernando Valley.
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Gregory Martayan is running for the Los Angeles Unified School Board in the March 7 primary election. Martayan hopes to represent District 4, which covers much of west L.A., Hollywood and portions of the southwest San Fernando Valley.

Martayan is one of four candidates running for the District 4 seat. Click here to view survey responses from other candidates in the race.

KPCC lightly edited all responding candidates' answers for spelling, grammar and style. KPCC is presenting candidates' answers in full, but does not vouch for the accuracy of any statements they make. Here are Martayan's responses to KPCC's candidate survey:

Why do you want to be a member of the L.A. Unified School Board?

After my wife and I had our third child, we started to look into local public schools as an option for our children. What I found was a complete mess. I decided to run when I found out that the district and its leadership have a history of re-victiming victims within our schools.  The attorneys of the district counter-sued a young female student, accusing her of seducing the rape within which she was the victim. I am running to protect our children because our families deserve better.

Superintendent Michelle King is in her thirteenth month in the district’s top job. On an A-F scale, how would you grade her first year? Please explain your answer.

Superintendent King has been doing a superb job considering the District she inherited, which was filled with mismanagement and corruption. The superintendent has been taking the time to visit with parents, teachers and students in order to access and prepare a plan for the future. I am confident that in the next couple years will see some revolutionary changes within our schools, especially once I take office. We will have smaller class sizes, safer schools and greater transparency.

Please name one idea or policy you don’t see Superintendent King, district leaders or the school board discussing often enough that — if elected — you’d work on either implementing or expanding in L.A. Unified?

All three of our platforms are not being discussed within LAUSD; our priority when elected will be to bring them to forefront. Safe schools in regards to curbing the ongoing child abuse cases within LAUSD, accountability in assuring that our students are receiving the best services the district has to offer and transparency in the budget and spending of the district.

Do you believe expanding “school choice” policies (giving parents more ability to choose the school their child attends) is a force for eliminating or exacerbating the educational opportunity gap between privileged and less-privileged racial, linguistic or socioeconomic groups? Please explain your rationale.

I was the first in this race to call out that charter deserts exist within Los Angeles, putting a disproportionate group of minority families in less-privileged positions by not affording them choice. As a board member I will fight for equality for all Angelenos and provide parents within all walks of life the opportunity to choose the educational paths for their children. Equal is equal and as your elected official I will assure that parents and families always maintain a seat at the decision table.

How, if at all, would you change L.A. Unified’s approach to “authorizing” and overseeing charter schools? (Your answer may touch on any facet of the relationship — from vetting applications to open new charter schools; renewing or revoking existing charters; monitoring charter schools’ performance, governance and finance; handling Prop. 39 campus-sharing arrangements.)

I will take each charter application on a case by case basis, evaluating each one equally and fairly.  I strongly support closing the gap within the Charter Deserts within the City of Los Angeles, by approaching and encouraging community organizers to step to the plate and let the District know where need exists.  The LAUSD needs to be more accessible and open to its constituents.

L.A. Unified faces long-term financial challenges, including declining enrollment and rising costs for pensions and employee benefits. A blue-ribbon panel in Nov. 2015 also highlighted further issues that cloud the district’s financial future. If elected, what immediate steps would you take to address these financial challenges?

LAUSD has a budget that is complete mess. It is a 300-page document filled with waste and corruption. We must clean house and begin to repair the damage necessary. I will prosecute the waste, fraud and abuse in the district. The district currently employs over 40 attorneys, many of whom make a quarter million dollars a year. Their job, simply put, has been to protect the district, because the district has done a lousy job of protecting children. In the last few years alone there are over $400 million in payouts in child abuse cases and this should not be tolerated. We must protect our kids and by assuring their safety we would not have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in pay outs.

The L.A. Unified board has set a district-wide goal of a 100 percent high school graduation rate. How, if at all, would you change the district’s approach to meeting this goal? (Or would you change the goal itself?)

I have been quoted by many as the candidate who will cut the red tape and that is exactly how we will meet our goal. The current administration has created a false narrative, in which they claim that graduation rates are at above 80 percent, but they are not, if you take into account C average standards. The current administration changed the graduation requirements from C to D, and in doing so increasing their graduation rates. This has completely destroyed the landscape of our system of education, due to bureaucrats who don’t want to face that they are doing a subpar job. We can achieve great graduation rates. However, we must cut the red tape and allow organizations, non-profit and outside support groups access to our schools, because they are currently being blocked by the LAUSD. By giving our kids a hand up, we can secure a better future for them all.

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KPCC lightly edited all responding candidates' answers for spelling, grammar and style. KPCC is presenting candidates' answers in full, but does not vouch for the accuracy of any statements they make.