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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

With its past investment in a campaign for Al-Alim, United Teachers Los Angeles "finds itself in a really tough position," said UCLA education professor Tyrone Howard, who commented before the Tuesday night remarks by Al-Alim and who has endorsed a different candidate. "Now they have rebuked him — so the opening is there for other candidates to make the runoff."

Before standing down on its on-the-ground campaign efforts, UTLA spent about $661,000 to try to elect Al-Alim and he remains the officially endorsed candidate — at least until the outcome of Monday's emergency meeting of the union's 250-member House of Representatives.

"UTLA may have stopped their campaigning for Al-Alim, but a lot of voters have already heard from them," said Dan Schnur, who teaches political communications at USC, Berkeley and Pepperdine. "Unless they decide to weigh in against him at the last minute with a very heavy ad buy, he could still end up in the runoff."

There are seven candidates on the ballot in District 1. Two spoke out quickly and strongly against Al-Alim.

"There is no room in our community and certainly no room on the Los Angeles Unified School Board for this dangerous speech and ideology," DeWayne Davis said in a statement. "The poison of antisemitic ideology ravages us all."

"We have to keep Kahllid Al-Alim off the school board and away from our children," Sherlett Hendy Newbill urged her supporters in an email.

 

Most candidates in that race don't have nearly the campaign resources that Al-Alim benefited from to get a message out to voters.

One who does is Didi Watts.

Two Sacramento-based PACs called Kids First and a charter schools PAC have spent $486,866 on Watts' behalf. Watts has emphasized the breadth of her leadership roles in traditional, charter and private schools. She currently serves as chief of staff for board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin, who is on the ballot in District 7.

Watts has not commented on the Al-Alim situation.

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