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LAUSD special election 2019: Here’s what to expect




L.A. Unified School Board member Kelly Gonez (right) speaks during a board meeting on Tues., Sept. 19, 2017. Next to her, the seat belonging to then-board member Ref Rodriguez sits empty.
L.A. Unified School Board member Kelly Gonez (right) speaks during a board meeting on Tues., Sept. 19, 2017. Next to her, the seat belonging to then-board member Ref Rodriguez sits empty.
(Kyle Stokes/KPCC)

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And you thought you were done with consequential elections until 2020.

Not so in Los Angeles, where ten candidates have lined up for a special election for an open seat on the Los Angeles Unified School Board. At stake: control of a pivotal seat on the LAUSD board, which is caught in the middle of an increasingly expensive political proxy war between charter school advocates and teachers unions.

But there are even more elements of intrigue in the race: a clash between new faces and the old guard, divisions along racial and geographic lines — and even the remnants of a scandal.

The LAUSD board is also caught in the middle of a power struggle between two groups with sharply contrasted views of how to run schools — and both have lots of cash to spend on elections.

On one side: teachers unions, like United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), who see charter schools as part of an existential threat to school districts. On the other: the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and other self-styled "education reform" groups like EdVoice, who position themselves as a counterweight to the long-dominant unions.

The special election is slated for today. If no one finishes with more than 50 percent of the vote — which is likely, given the high number of declared candidates — the city will hold a runoff election between the top two finishers on May 14, 2019.

With guest host Libby Denkmann

Read Kyle’s full field guide on LAist.com

Guest:

Kyle Stokes, education reporter at KPCC; he tweets @kystokes