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13 candidates crowd the field for LAUSD’s special election in June

LA School Report | February 19, 2014

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LAUSD-Election-ButtonUpdated: Feb. 19, 2014
Thirteen candidates — two of whom signed up within minutes of the 5 p.m. City Clerk deadline yesterday — have declared their intention to run for LA Unified School Board in June’s special election, in what appears to be the most crowded race in recent school board election history.

The District 1 seat, left open by the death of longtime trustee, Marguerite LaMotte, covers much of South LA, stretching from Hancock Park, south to Gardena.

The field includes educators (current and retired), entertainment personalities, a DWP employee, an elected official and a political aide. To stay in the race each candidate must file nominating petitions with 500 to 1000 valid signatures from residents of the district by March 7. Here is a rundown of the line-up:

Lady Cage-BarileLady Cage-Barile

According to her website, Cage-Barile ran for state assembly in 2010 on a Tea-Party platform that included, pro-life and anti-immigration positions. She is one of two candidates who filed with the City Clerk’s within moments of the deadline. She will appear on the ballot as a “Teacher/Publicist/Treasurer.”


Genethia Hudley HayesGenethia Hudley-Hayes

A seasoned educator and civic leader, Hayes is looking to make a comeback to the school board. She served from 1999 to 2003, then, as president, lost her seat to LaMotte.

She told LA School Report she’s eager to address all of the changing needs of area schools, not just those of the black community.

“This is not about this being a seat for black people; if you look at a map of the district, there’s a lot of diversity in District 1,” she said. “There are Latinos, Asians, there are Anglos – if you look at the map it goes all the way up to Hancock Park, so I think you need to be talking to all of those communities.”

Hudley Hayes says she hopes to gain the support of UTLA.


Alex JohnsonAlex Johnson

Johnson, Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, filed his papers yesterday but has long been rumored to be running. He has the powerful backing of Ridley-Thomas, who is fast amassing a power base in South LA after his son won an assembly seat there last year.  Ridley-Thomas was one of the most outspoken elected officials advocating for an election to fill the seat, over an appointment.

Johnson has been making the rounds to funders and civic leaders for weeks in anticipation of the race.

Prior to his work for Ridley-Thomas, Johnson worked closely with school instructional leaders in the New York City Department of Education.

Rachel Johnson

Rachel Johnson

Johnson, a 30-year veteran teacher, is currently a kindergarten teacher at Purche Avenue Elementary School and a Gardena City Councilwoman. At the school board meeting last month, she asked for a swift appointment to the seat, explaining,” I’ve always deferred to the side of election because that is our bread and butter but this situation is very complex.”

She said she had to “break rank with many of my political colleagues” in deciding to run.


omarosa manigaultOmarosa Manigault

Bringing unusual visibility to the special election, Omarosa Manigault is a former TV personality best known for her contentious role on The Apprentice.

“I’m a tough, no nonsense, take-no-prisoners woman,” she told LA School Report. “People know me and that I’m not afraid to advocate for our district,” in the spirit of LaMotte, she said, whom she considered a friend. “They want someone who can go in the board room and get something done.”

A teacher at Howard University, an ordained pastor, and more recently, a special education substitute teacher in LA Unified, Manigault says she was urged to seek office by concerned parents, community leaders, friends and family. “My agenda is children, to make sure they have opportunities they deserve.”


George McKenna

George McKenna

McKenna was the first choice for the seat among the pro-appointment camp and has the strong support of U.S. Representative Maxine Waters.

McKenna, a retired LA Unified administrator and former area superintendent, built support from the community on the issue of appointing a school board member, but it is unclear if that will translate into an election base. He told LA School Report his support has grown: “Every day there are new organizations encouraging me to run.”


hattiemcfrazier-smHattie McFrazier

An LA Unified district lifer, McFrazier spent 31 years with the district, retiring in 2012. She held a variety of positions including teacher, counselor, School Attendance Review Board Chair and Health and Human Services Director.

She also held leadership roles in the National Education Association and California Teachers Association, and she continues to sit on United Teachers LA’s board of directors

In an interview with LA School Report, she said, “The only way to make sure our schools are functioning the way they’re supposed to be, is to bring teachers and health and human services and administrators back to the schools.”



empty_headshotMarco Mendoza

As an electric station operator for the Department of Water and Power, Mendoza is the only candidate listed as “Parent” on the ballot. “I am not an educator,” he told LA School Report. “I am a parent, and that’s a good thing.”

Mendoza has two children attending District 1 area schools, and a third attends a KIPP charter school. He said he’s been pained by the severe budget cuts his daughters’ schools have been subjected to but it was “the iPad issue” that lead him to enter the race.

“I don’t think [the board] looked for cheaper tablets,” he said. “I just asked myself, are there other parents on this board?”



empty_headshotDavid Earle Moch 

A lifelong educator on the verge of retirement, Moch has been teaching at La Salle Elementary for the last 15 years. He’s served as UTLA chapter chair for the school for the last two.

In an email to LA School Report, he said, “I have seen LAUSD from the inside out, since my first job with them was as a custodian while working my way through school at L.A. City College. I have seen the issues concerning Charter Schools first hand since we had to co-exist with one on the La Salle Elementary School campus for two years. I have seen the return and re-enrollment of the most challenging student after they had been rejected by the Charter. I am however a living testimony that Public Education can work. I want to work to insure that it does..for all students.”

Sherlett Hendy NewbillSherlett Hendy Newbill

Newbill, a teacher for 15 years and girl’s basketball coach at Dorsey High School has also served as the teachers union (UTLA) co-chapter chair at Dorsey for seven years.

She told LA School Report, “I grew up in Board District 1, came back to teach in Board District 1, and worked closely with board member LaMotte on projects to improve schools in this community.  This community needs strong representation because our schools have been under-served and under-resourced for too long.”



empty_headshotAlison “Alis” Noel

A relative new-comer to the crowded field, Noel is listed as an “Educator Advocate/Engineer” on her declaration of intention with the City Clerk. She did not respond to LA School Report’s request for an interview.


empty_headshotPriscilla Reed

An activist in South Los Angeles, Reed lists on her resume being a representative on the Empowerment Congress Central Area Neighborhood Development Council. She is one of two candidates who filed with the City Clerk’s within moments of the deadline. She will appear on the ballot as a “Volunteer/Advocate/Mother.”



Describing herself as “semi-retired,” Viencentotzes spent 20 years as long-term substitute teacher in LA and Compton Unified school districts. Eventually she moved on to working as a school psychologist with LAUSD as well the county.

She told LA School Report, “I’m committed to making sure teachers are protected so that they can teach our kids. My sympathy and empathy for teachers is best shown in my book, about the bullying that goes on in education with teachers.” Her website offers on-site training for teachers coping with student behavioral issues.



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