Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Three Los Angeles Unified School District board members will be looking to retain their seats Tuesday in an election that has drawn intense interest — and hefty donations — from a charter school organization.

Bennett Kayser, who has generally opposed charter schools, has been under fire from the California Charter School Association, which has put its financial might behind challenger Ref Rodriguez, the founder of a chain of charter schools known as Partnership to Uplift Communities.

Kayser, a former teacher and technology coordinator for the district’s Independent Studies program, has the backing of the powerful United Teachers Los Angeles union. According to the Los Angeles Times, UTLA has spent about $800,000 in support of Kayser, but the Charter School Association invested about $1.8 million against him and in support of Rodriguez.

Rodriguez finished first in the March primary election but fell short of the 50 percent of the vote needed to unseat Kayser for the District 5 seat, which represents an area that includes Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Bell, Cudahy, Los Feliz and Huntington Park.

Incumbent Tamar Galatzan — a deputy Los Angeles city attorney — also has the support of the California Charter Association in her bid for re- election in the San Fernando Valley’s District 3. She will square off in today’s election against retired LAUSD teacher and principal Scott Mark Schmerelson.

Schmerelson has the backing of UTLA, which has spent more than $440,000 on his behalf, The Times reported.

Richard Vladovic, the LAUSD board’s president, was expected to cruise to a re-election win in March in District 7, which includes the Harbor area and reaches into South Los Angeles, but he fell short of the vote total needed to avoid the runoff. He will face off against teacher Lydia Gutierrez.

—City News Service

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