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How mega-spending and alleged scandals could influence LAUSD school board elections

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

As two leading Los Angeles school board candidates grapple with blows to their campaigns — antisemitic tweets for one and an investigation that temporarily removed another from her counseling job — outside groups continue to flood races with spending to win influence over the nation's second-largest school system.

Four seats, a majority of the seven-member Board of Education — are on the ballot for the election that ends March 5. The top two finishers in each contest will be on the ballot in November.

Late campaign turbulence in two competitive races has complicated the picture.

For more than a week, Kahllid Al-Alim, running for the District 1 seat representing much of South L.A. and southwest L.A., has been dealing with the revelation that he retweeted and "liked" on social media posts that promoted antisemitic content, glorified guns and celebrated pornographic images.

He spoke about his social media activity again Tuesday in remarks that seem to stake out a different position than what he stated in a series of apologies.

Better news arrived this week for Ortiz, campaigning in District 5, which runs north to south along the eastern portion of the school system. She is back at work, as of Tuesday, as a counseling administrator for L.A. Unified, the district confirmed. Officials had removed her from her job pending a confidential investigation. Ortiz has declined to comment about the matter.

 

It's not clear why the district launched an investigation, but it began shortly after a civil lawsuit was filed in January alleging Ortiz and a political ally are liable for the actions of a campaign worker, who pleaded no contest to sexual misconduct with an underage volunteer. A spokesman for Ortiz called the lawsuit frivolous and politically motivated.

Ortiz also has declined to answer questions about the case.

Both Ortiz and Al-Alim remain strong contenders in large measure because of money spent on their behalf.

Both have benefited from campaigns run by political action committees, which have long been a prime influence in electing L.A. school board members.

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