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School Board Candidate Loses An Endorsement

Citing the lawsuit filed against Graciela Ortiz by a former student, CSEA LOCAL 500 retracted its endorsement of her in the BD5 race.

By Carl J. PetersenPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

The action by CSEA LA 500 reflects deep concern about Ortiz and the potential for damage to the union from association with her.

– From the CSEA Los Angeles Chapter 500 Facebook page

While Graciela Ortiz has tried to minimize the lawsuit filed against her by a former student as a “politically motivated, frivolous and misguided piece of litigation”, the charges should be a cause of concern for anyone who cares about the safety of children. According to the plaintiff, Ortiz used her position of power as an LAUSD employee to recruit students for her political campaigns. It is alleged that the adults assigned to work with these young campaign workers were not properly vetted, providing the opportunity for one to viciously attack a student at gunpoint. Ortiz classifies this sexual assault, for which the perpetrator has been convicted, as an “unfortunate occurrence.

The “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding this lawsuit has resulted in the Los Angeles chapter of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) taking the “extremely rare” action of retracting “the union's earlier endorsement of Graciela Ortiz”. Reflecting the “deep concern about Ortiz,” the vote was unanimous.

While not mentioned by CSEA, questions have also risen about Ortiz’s fundraising for the campaign. An article in CityWatch detailed “unusual donations [that] raise ethical concerns” including three donors who listed their profession as “dishwashers” making maximum donations of $1,300, a case eerily similar to the one that landed disgraced former LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez in jail. Some have also questioned if there was any Quid Pro Quo involved with donations made by her subordinates at the LAUSD.

So far, CSEA seems to be alone in questioning the wisdom of maintaining an endorsement for a candidate being besieged by controversy. They have recognized the “potential for damage to the union from [a continued] association with her,” but others, including LAUSD Board Member for BD6, Kelly Gonez, and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are still listed as endorsees on the candidate’s website.

Also continuing their support of Ortiz despite her ethical concerns is SEIU 99, a union that in the past legally laundered $25,000 from the political arm of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) so that it would appear that Monica Garcia was being funded with labor support as she battled with Lisa Alva and me in our grassroots efforts in 2017.

In this election cycle, SEIU 99 has spent over half a million dollars supporting Ortiz. This is a surprising amount considering that the union represents some of the lowest-paid employees in the District. It is also unclear what the return on investment for their efforts will be as the Charter School Industry that is supporting Ortiz consists mostly of schools that are not unionized.

Two other candidates are running in the race, both of whom would better serve the needs of SEIU’s membership. CSEA’s was a dual endorsement and their support of Fidencio Gallardo is unchanged. The teachers’ union, UTLA, is supporting Karla Griego. While both are excellent candidates, I have endorsed Griego. Additional information about all of the candidates can be found in the endorsement article.


Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs, who serves as the Education Chair for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit Opinions are his own.


About the Creator

Carl J. Petersen

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Very interesting 😶‍🌫️

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