July 17, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Brentwood’s Nick Melvoin Wins District 4 LAUSD Board Seat

By Kelly Hartog and Jeff Hall

In a stunning upset, and a major blow to the teachers union, reform candidate Nick Melvoin, unseated incumbent Steve Zimmer, who was running for a third term as the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) board president. It was also the first time Zimmer had been forced into a runoff election.

When the final tally was counted, Melvoin took 57.4 percent of the vote to Zimmer’s 42.58 percent.

It was a major victory for Melvoin (and also for Kelly Gonez, who won the LAUSD District 6 race). Both made history by becoming the first reform-backed candidates to win seats on the school board without the backing of the mayor.

Melvoin was born and raised in Brentwood. He grew up playing soccer at Paul Revere, had his bar mitzvah at University Synagogue, and went to summer camp at what is now Brentwood Lower School. His parents still live in the house Melvoin grew up in, and Melvoin also serves on the Brentwood Community Council.

The LAUSD campaign was bitter, hard fought and expensive. Supporters for both Melvoin and Zimmer spent $14.5 million in advertising, mailers, and negative campaign materials. In the race four years prior, only $7.4 million was spent.

The teachers union – United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) – spent close to $500,000 campaigning against Melvoin, trying to paint him as a candidate aligned with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, despite the fact that Melvoin is a registered Democrat.

However, Melvoin’s reform and charter school supporters fought back, spending close to $2.5 million in an effort to get him elected.

During the hard fought race, Zimmer and Melvoin held very different positions. Melvoin spoke of a district that no longer worked and that change was necessary. In an interview with Brentwood News prior to the election, Melvoin said, “I want to give more control to local schools and parents as well as increase the amount of financial transparency.”

Melvoin, who started his career as a LAUSD teacher, teaching English at Markham Middle School in Watts, added, “the needs of students in Brentwood are different than those of students in Watts. I want to empower principals and parents to tailor neighborhood schools to meet the needs of the students.”

During his concession speech, Zimmer – who along with UTLA was pushing more spending and smaller class sizes – said, “Teachers are not failing. Students are not failing. Schools are not failing.”

However Melvoin told Brentwood News, “Unfortunately, today, too many kids in LAUSD are not reaching their potential because of a district that puts bureaucrats ahead of kids. Many parents don’t believe that the district is meeting the needs of their children, so they opt for private school or school in a different community. I’d like to invest more in local schools so that families throughout the city feel confident in their public school options.”

Following his acceptance speech, Melvoin told LA Schools Report, “I would like the first thing we try to tackle to be moving beyond this, what we call the school, who governs the school, and respect parents’ choices and respect educators’ choices.”

 

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