In Partnership with 74

Profiles: Los Angeles school board candidates discuss ideas

LA School Report | May 24, 2022

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.

Today we present “Meet the LAUSD School Board Candidates,” profiles of the candidates running for three open seats on the seven-member Los Angeles school board in the June 7 primary. If elected, candidates for LAUSD school board —  representing the largest school district in the country with an elected board — will confront complex issues ranging from pandemic recovery to school equity to targeting chronic absenteeism. On May 25, 26, and 27, candidates will participate in an online forum where they can share their views on the major issues.

You can read all of the profiles here

District 2 

Maria Brenes

Background/profession: Education advocate, LAUSD parent and executive director of InnerCity Struggle

Why are you running?

For 20 years I have been a strong voice and advocate for educational justice and re-imagining public education to be equitable for all LAUSD students…, Historically, students of color have been academically left behind, criminalized and public schools have been severely under-resourced. Families of color have high hopes and high expectations for their children and public education can play an essential role in empowering them to reach their fullest potential… My goal would be to develop policy and an LAUSD budget rooted in racial justice… I want to… strengthen traditional neighborhood schools to be hubs of academic excellence…in highest need communities.

Read more about Maria Brenes.

Rocio Rivas

Background/profession: Research and Policy Deputy, LAUSD School Board, BD5

Why are you running?

I am running… because I am a public education leader, professional, advocate and parent with a Ph.D. in education. I am deeply passionate about public education and have worked… to serve the… public good. I received the best educational experience as an LAUSD student and as a mom to a student thriving in LAUSD schools, I want the same for ALL students…As the only LAUSD active parent on the board I (want to) … to address all the needs of LAUSD students…(with) schools… fully staffed with full time counselors, psychiatric social workers, librarians, nurses, supervising aides, and paraprofessionals.

Read more about Rocio Rivas.

Miguel Angel Segura 

Background/profession: Public School Teacher, Organizer, Elected Official Staffer, National Advance Staff

Why are you running?

I am running because I AM Board District 2 (BD2). I was born, raised, and living in BD2. I attended Union Elementary School, Virgil Middle School, and Belmont High School … I am a product of BD2. I have been a student of LAUSD, a board member staffer for LAUSD, and currently, a teacher for the district. I know every angle of education at LAUSD … , that is best … Once I have the privilege to serve as the BD2 member, it will be an honor … to represent each neighborhood and community, rather than being a “job” … My collaborative approach to work with … members will enhance the successes set out for BD2, as we all can leverage each other’s successes and learn lessons for better outcomes. Better outcomes in BD2 are my reasons for running.

Read more about Miguel Angel Segura.


Erica Vilardi Espinosa

Background/profession: Community Organizer/Accountant

Why are you running? 

Education is the basis of everything. I believe schools are the center of the community and provide not just education but also, friends, mentors, social structure, nutrition, and a safe environment… In a country like The US, everyone should be able to receive a fair and equitable public education… I want to make sure all LAUSD schools are doing everything possible to ensure our children are prepared for the future.

Read more about Erica Vilardi Espinosa


Miho Murai (write-in candidate)

Background/Profession: Education rights/immigration attorney, educator, activist

Why are you running? I am running for school board because I know I can be a powerful voice for low-income, English language learners, students with disabilities, students in the foster care and juvenile justice system, students who are unhoused, and the Asian Pacific American community. Since 2009, I have had my own pro bono/low bono law firm and have been representing low-income students with disabilities… to ensure children are provided with a free and appropriate public education… I understand what many of our students go through…as I am a proud product of public education and initially struggled academically due to my lack of knowledge of the English language and my mom’s inability to advocate for my needs…

Read more about Miho Murai

District 4 

Gentille Barkhordar

Background/profession: Electrical Engineer/Mother

Why are you running? 

I am a parent of two LAUSD elementary students. I am concerned for our children’s well-being, the mental health crisis and learning loss.…Feeling helpless among many thousands of parents made me want to run for school board. Our children have suffered a great deal of social isolation and with little advocacy. Not a single member of the school board is a parent of a school aged child. I am running to give parents a seat at the negotiating table so that when important decisions are made about our children’s futures they are made with parent input.

Read more about Gentille Barkhordar


Nick Melvoin

Background/profession: Educator/LAUSD School Boardmember 

Why are you running?

I’m running to continue the work I started with parents, students, and educators when I took my oath 5 years ago…. with the added challenge of a… pandemic that forced kids and teachers from the classroom…I’m proud to have helped recruit Superintendent Alberto Carvalho…The confluence of a new, dynamic superintendent and the COVID-19 pandemic entering an “endemic” phase presents the district with an incredible opportunity to double down on our pledge of providing an excellent school district to every student and family regardless of their zip code.

Read more about Nick Melvoin


Tracey Schroeder

Background/profession: LAUSD teacher

Why are you running? 

I am running to help guide our district through an Academic Crisis that this district has ever seen. I am a boots on the ground, front-line, eyes-on-student-needs-educator… I have dedicated the past 24 years of my life in service to the students and families of Los Angeles Unified School District as a teacher….”

Read more about Tracey Schroeder

District 6 

Jess Arana

Background/profession: Public Service – Police Sergeant/Educator

Why are you running?

I am running on a student first platform and to give a voice back to parents and the community. Although we can never truly remove politics from education, decisions need to be made from the standpoint on what is best for students, parents, and the community. The interest of outside organizations with political agendas should not weigh more than student achievement and community concerns.

Read more about Jess Arana


Kelly Gonez


Background/profession: LAUSD School Board President, BD6

Why are you running?

I joined the LAUSD Board of Education because I know there is more that we as a community can and must do so that every child in LAUSD receives an excellent public education…. I believe that our schools have benefited tremendously from having a representative with classroom experience, and I have a strong record of delivering for our community and building a progressive policy agenda… I have spent the past five years working tirelessly as a fierce advocate for our students, staff, and families and collaborating to solve challenges… and strengthen our public schools.

Read more about Kelly Gonez


Marvin A. Rodriguez


Background/profession: LAUSD Spanish Teacher/Parent and Veteran

Why are you running? 

I am running for school board because I believe in public education and the important role it plays in uplifting communities… I am committed to a new vision for our public schools. I believe in the power of community in our schools. I look to build communities of resources, support, and hope for our students… because when our students feel they belong to a community, they are inspired to engage and make positive contributions to it.

Read more about Kelly Gonez

Read Next