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LAUSD board member websites range from active to somnambulent

Craig Clough | November 2, 2015

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George McKenna websiteMonths after LA School Report found confusion, dated information or simply no information on the websites of LA Unified board members, a number of them still appear to be squandering them as their most direct social media asset to reach constituents.

In a self-described era of board openness and transparency, some members have made significant improvements on their websites, and the district, itself, has expanded its digital outreach, with news features like LAUSD Daily, which captures feel-good stories from around the district.

But it’s clear that several members’ websites remain woefully out of date or lacking in useful information, calling into question the degree to which they truly want to engage the public.

According to the front page of his website, board member George McKenna is organizing a series of “education town halls” in January, February and March. The public is invited. There’s just one problem: Those meetings were held nearly a year ago. Even so, it’s the first thing McKenna has to say on his website, just as it was in July, when LA School Report first pointed it out.

What else does he have to say? There’s a homepage link to the “McKenna Memo” newsletter, the last issue of which was sent out last December, and links to the “latest news,” which is also from December. McKenna’s Facebook account is also frozen in time, with two posts in its entire history, the last of which was, yes, December.

The lack of activity on the Facebook page could explain why McKenna has a total of 39 followers. McKenna has a Twitter account, too, but does not appear to have ever sent a single tweet to any of his 49 followers. (McKenna did not respond to a request for comment.)

And that’s not an anomaly. Board President Steve Zimmer‘s website contains no information but for an invitation to sign up for his newsletter.  When clicking on the “Newsletter” page, readers find a newsletter from May. May 2014. (Maybe he should rename it the “Oldletter” page.)

Zimmer does appear to have produced newsletters since then, but they aren’t found anywhere on the newsletter page. A link to his recent September newsletter can be found on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. What’s in the newsletter? Primarily, photos from Zimmer’s participation in a Labor Day march and his thoughts on Labor Day, but not much else.

Zimmer’s social media accounts, particularly Facebook, are not much more active and amount to 12 Facebook posts since September and two tweets. Zimmer seems to have lost interest in his Twitter account over the last year, as the number of tweets has fallen significantly despite an impressive number of followers, over 1,400. His Facebook page, while more active, only has 165 followers.

On the other end of the spectrum is board member Monica Garcia, who has robust and regular communication through her website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. There are regular and easy to find newsletters and active social media accounts with frequent posts. This could explain why Garcia has many followers on social media, with over 1,100 on Facebook and 1,700 on Twitter.

The other board members seem to fall somewhere in-between McKenna’s inertia and Garcia’s dynamism.

The most useful information on board member Monica Ratliff‘s website is in her regular monthly newsletter, but she hasn’t added one since the summer. She has a Facebook page with over 1,100 friends, but only one public post in all of 2015. She has a Twitter page, but with a total of just six tweets ever and just over 200 followers, her reach on that platform is somewhat limited.

Board member Richard Vladovic has made a change to his website over the last few months, chosing now to embed his active Facebook page posts directly onto the website as the main source of regular information. The Facebook page is well maintained and up- to-date, with over 2,000 followers, but Vladovic does not appear to produce any regular newsletter, at least one that can be easily found.

Board members Scott Schmerelson and Ref Rodriguez took office in July and are just getting their online operations up and running — but to different degrees. Both recently produced their first newsletters. The home page of Schmerelson’s website contains a message saying it will be “the future home of information and updates.” Schmerelson does not appear to have any Facebook or Twitter accounts, while Rodriguez has active accounts for both, with over 1,200 followers on Facebook and 500 on Twitter.

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