LAUSD Board District 3 Election: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Carl J. Petersen
11 min readJan 24, 2020

What we accept as normal today with regard to education, I want your grandchildren to tell you that you were crazy to accept.

- Bernie Sanders

It has been over five years since my wife, Nicole, and I sat in a conference room in Eli Broad’s LAUSD headquarters and decided to take on the district’s bureaucracy. To be honest, I did not even know who my school board member was at the time. We just knew that fighting the district to make sure that my two daughters received services that their teachers agreed that they needed was an untenable situation and we wanted to do our part to Change the LAUSD. My first campaign for the LAUSD School Board was born.

It did not take long to realize how deeply entrenched the problems were at the district or that my representative on the school board was part of the reason the LAUSD was headed straight towards catastrophe. Tamar Galatzan was a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney moonlighting as a school board member. She was a strong supporter of the then-superintendent John Deasy and his $1.3 billion iPad debacle. Too busy with her day job, she was missing in action as Deasy flubbed the implementation of MiSiS and had to spend over $133.6-million in an attempt to fix the resulting problems. She promised a school additional funding if it converted to a pilot school even as the source of those funds dried up.

Even with all of these problems, Galatzan was considered invincible. Her campaign’s bank account was heavily padded by those promoting charter schools and she enjoyed the support of Los Angeles’ privatizer in chief, former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Even so, five candidates lined up to challenge her in the March 2015 primary election.

The Author and “Tamar Antoinette” during the 2015 campaign (Nicole Petersen)

Elizabeth Badger and I were the first competitors to declare and met soon afterward at a town hall hosted by the incumbent. We exchanged contact information after a debate during George McKenna’s special election and have been friends ever since.

Scott Mark Schmerelson entered the race just as nominating petitions were being circulated. My first encounter with him was when his phone interrupted the silence with the theme of “Our Gang”…

Carl J. Petersen

Parent, special education advocate and former LAUSD School Board candidate. Still fighting for the children.