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Charter group drawing more fire for ‘racist’ flyer on Kayser

Michael Janofsky | February 2, 2015

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anti-Kayser flierA campaign flyer implying that LA Unified board member Bennett Kayser is racist is drawing more fire, as two more would-be beneficiaries renounced its message, and an LA Times editorial accused the sponsoring organization of engaging in “slimy tactics on behalf of children.”

Produced by an arm of the California Charter Schools Association, the flyer uses a photo of brown-skinned children below Spanish that translates to: “Bennett Kayser tried to stop Latino children from attending schools in white neighborhoods.” On the other side, it says, “He’s not for us.”

The flyer is part of a $40,000 spend on behalf of Ref Rodriguez, a charter school executive challenger Kayser for the District 5 board seat in the March 3 elections. The flyer expresses support for Gonzalez, as well as for George McKenna in District 1, Tamar Galatzan in District 3 and board President Richard Vladovic in District 7.

Today, Galatzan added her voice to a rising chorus of criticism, telling LA School Report, “Negative literature like this has no place in the campaign. There are a lot of very important issues facing LAUSD, and I hope that we’re able to focus on those instead.”

On Friday, Rodriguez accused the sponsors of using “race in a reprehensible and divisive way.”

“While the mailer was not seen, sent, or approved by my campaign, I want to be clear that this mailer does not reflect what I believe about my opponent,” Rodriguez wrote on his Facebook page. “Whatever the policy differences I have with Mr. Kayser, and there are many, my campaign has been and will continue to be focused on being a positive force in this election–to highlight differences but also to highlight common ground–and I will continue to move forward in that spirt. This is what our students, teachers, parents, and community deserve.”

An LA Times editorial on Friday, said, “The Los Angeles Unified school board has enough divisions over educational philosophy to fill a thousand school-board campaigns. The last thing we need is the introduction of phony racial divisions and shameful accusations that strongly and wrongly imply a candidate is racist.”

McKenna was first to criticize the flyer last week, saying “I reject the statements, accusations and positions promoted by this group as it relates to Board Member Kayser, whom I strongly support for re-election.”

McKenna requested that the endorsement of him be withdrawn and that his name not be used by the group in any subsequent campaign material.

Vladovic, who rarely responds to press questions, did not respond to a message seeking to clarify whether he was comfortable with the flyer’s message and having his name associated with it.

The charter schools association also did not respond to a request for comment,

The portrait of Kayser painted by the flyer flies in the face is of his actions on the board. Most of the schools in District 5 are populated by Latinos, from Echo Park to South Gate. And he’s been one of the boards strongest advocates for undocumented students. In 2012 Kayser sponsored a resolution calling on LAUSD to create a more user-friendly process for “Dreamers” seeking transcripts of their records to apply for the Obama Administration plan known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

At the time, Kayser had to rally support for the resolution because he feared it would not pass.

Groups such as the sponsor of the flyer are barred by law from working directly with candidates. Their efforts are tracked separately as “independent expenditures.”

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