“It is called an Individualized Education Program because it should be tailored to the individual student. That is why I have fought so hard to make sure that Special Education Centers remain open and available to serve our students who need those wonderful centers of learning.”
- Scott Schmerelson
In the time between Steve Zimmer’s loss to Nick Melvoin and Ref Rodriguez’s felony indictments, Scott Schmerelson was in the LAUSD Board’s minority and, with every meeting that went by, the representative from District 3 looked more and more dejected. The tension between him and his neighbor on the dais, Monica Garcia, was noticeable to anyone watching the proceedings. As president of the board, Rodriguez had ended the committees, including the Special Education Committee that Schmerelson led, depriving him of the direct connection that it gave him to the families of the district’s most vulnerable students. It promised to be a long three and a half years to the next election cycle.
With the news of Rodriguez’s indictments, the light at the end of the tunnel appeared to get closer, but things would get worse for Schmerelson in the near term. Until the accused felon actually stepped down, the Eli Broad block of charter school supporters on the board still held a majority and they were determined to do as much damage as possible before losing control. Their first priority was to hire a superintendent who shared their plan to privatize public education.
Perhaps the lowest point in Schmerelson’s term came in the days leading up to the hiring of Superintendent Austin Beutner. Ignoring past precedent, the board’s majority would not seek consensus for the new leader of the country’s second-largest school district. When they forced through their choice, their vote was hidden from the public, an alleged violation of the Brown Act. Even as the public advocated for a Superintendent who had professional experience, the contract had already been drawn up in closed session. Although he objected to this betrayal of public trust, Schmerelson was expected to maintain his silence.