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Reform Coalition Attacks Sanchez Opponents in District 6

Hillel Aron | February 22, 2013

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District 6, which covers the East San Fernando Valley, is the one School Board race where the big special interest groups — the Coalition for School Reform, SEIU and UTLA — have all endorsed the same candidate: Antonio Sanchez.

But that hasn’t stopped the Coalition from going negative with a new, double-sided glossy mailer attacking Sanchez’s opponents, Maria Cano and Monica Ratliff.

There are a number of reasons to run these new ads, including the Coalition’s desire to avoid a runoff and an effort to make sure that Sanchez is clearly identified as a reform candidate.

In interviews with LA School Report, Cano and Ratliff denounced the claims made in the mailers as hilarious and untrue.

The new flyer claims that “Maria Cano was public relations spin doctor for one of LAUSD’s most wasteful divisions, where she advocated for building the most expensive school in American history at over $500 million, while the District cut art and PE and laid off thousands of teachers.”

“It’s more hilarious than anything,” said Cano, who worked as an LAUSD Facilities Community Relations Organizer, acting as liaison between the district and the community in the building of new schools.

The $500 million is a reference to Robert Kennedy School, which is actually in District 2, where the Coalition-backed Monica Garcia is running for reelection. The Coalition also took a pot shot at the Kennedy school in a TV ad attacking District 4 candidate Steve Zimmer.

In an interview with LA School Report, Cano said she only worked on projects in the San Fernando Valley and called the negative mailer “a slap at the community we’re meant to represent, because it’s saying our students don’t deserve new schools and adequate facilities.”

The mailer also makes a dubious claim about Monica Ratliff: “Ratliff opposes allowing local school officials to immediately remove – and, if convicted, fire – teachers or school staff accused of sexually abusing students.”

“I expected negative mailers perhaps during a runoff,” Ratliff told LA School Report. “But I didn’t expect people to say things that weren’t true.”

The ad cites an article by LA School Report about a debate held on February 1, in which Ratliff told us she opposed SB 1530, which would have made it easier to fire teachers accused of harming teachers.

Ratliff said she wasn’t opposed to streamlining the process, but she disagrees with some of the specifics of SB 10, such as changing if from a panel that reviews a teacher’s dismissal to a judge.

“Of course I support getting any teacher or school staff accused of sexually abusing a student out of a school site immediately,” said Ratliff,  who’s been endorsed by the LA Times. “I always have.”

The Coalition stands by the mailer’s description of events.
“Monica Ratliff was given two chances to stand up for students’ safety and support legislation that would have made it easier to remove and fire teachers suspected of harming a child in the classroom and she opposed one bill and didn’t even bother to read the other,” said Coalition spokesperson Janelle Erickson in an email.

Why is the Coalition spending so much money on Sanchez — and against his opponents? The Coalition may be hoping Sanchez will get 50 percent of the vote and thus avoid a runoff election in May — a difficult but not impossible task for first-time candidate.

Previous posts: D4 Challenger Anderson Rebuts Union AttackUpdate: Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows NegativeEast Valley Forum: Differences Over Deasy, Evaluation, & DismissalCoalition TV Ad Attacks Zimmer over Robert Kennedy School

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