LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted 4-3 to select Ref Rodriguez as board president for the 2017-18 school year.
The four deciding votes were cast by newly elected members Kelly Gonez and Nick Melvoin, as well as Mónica García, who was re-elected for a fourth term, and Rodriguez himself.
Gonez, Melvoin and García were sworn-in for their new terms at a special ceremony held earlier at Ramon C. Cortines High School for the Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles.
“I want to thank my colleagues for the confidence they’ve placed in me to lead,” Rodriguez said. “From the moment I was elected to this board, I have remained loyal to my message of unity. And — I must stress — we are all working together.”
Rodriguez added, “This is about children and putting our kids first. We must make decisions that blossom from the community and that will have a transformative impact 10 years from now. I know that we will come together, unite and conduct the business of serving all students.”
Rodriguez also commented on the need to run board meetings more efficiently, urging members to keep students in mind each time they take action. He spoke about working with labor partners to ensure equitable treatment of employees and bringing the district to fiscal soundness.
For his first action as president, Rodriguez appointed García to serve as board vice president for 2017-18.
“Dr. Rodriguez is a great role model for our youth,” García said. “As our board president, he will focus our work on the ‘Kids First’ agenda of learning, leading and succeeding for students.”
“I am inspired by the leadership that both Dr. Rodriguez and Ms. García have shown during their time on the board,” Melvoin said. “I look forward to working with them to ensure that with every action we take we are asking ourselves ‘How do we do right by kids?’ I know that this board will put kids first.”
“I have every confidence in Dr. Rodriguez’ leadership as the next school board president,” Gonez said. “We share a commitment to ensuring that our families and the entire community have an equal opportunity to participate in board decisions. And, I know, he will work as board president to advance that goal. I’m looking forward to working together to improve public education for all kids in Los Angeles.”
Superintendent Michelle King offered her own vote of confidence in the board, and its newly elected president.
“The seven board members and I share the common goal to put our kids first and provide the support necessary for every student to be successful,” she said. “I look forward to working closely with board President Rodriguez and all members of the board in continuing our progress toward 100 percent graduation.”
A number of representatives from collaborating agencies also voiced approval of the board’s decision. Jacqueline Elliot, co-founder of Partnerships to Uplift Communities, and a representative of the L.A. Advocacy Council said, “We know that Dr. Rodriguez has a strong history of collaboration. The council is committed to working in collaboration with the district to provide the very best public education possible for all students.”
Elliot added, “Dr. Rodriguez’ commitment has always been to the greater educational community. And, as a result of his exemplary leadership skills, many more thousands of students will be prepared for success.”
“We look forward to working with all our school board members to fix historical inequities and build upon the great successes of this most promising district,” said Ama Nyamekye, executive director of Educators for Excellence. “Mónica García and Dr. Ref Rodriguez have served the institution of public education by working on the ground level with teachers, parents, and communities to run schools and lead transformative policies to provide more equity, access, resources and transparency for our most vulnerable students and communities.”
“We look forward to working with the district’s new leadership in pursuing innovative and equitable solutions to benefit all students,” said John Kim, executive director of the Advancement Project California.
Elise Buik, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, offered congratulations to the newly elected board president, as well as to the three board members sworn in for a new term.
“In this next chapter, it is crucial for the district to call for greater unity and teamwork to solve its fiscal problems, to become more welcoming to families and to ensure that all students graduate ready for college and a stable career,” she said. “We stand firm in our commitment to working side by side with this board and seeing LAUSD succeed in achieving a 100 percent graduation rate.”
“The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce congratulates the newly elected LAUSD board President Dr. Ref Rodriguez, and Vice President Mónica García,” said David Rattray, executive vice president of the Center for Education Excellence and Talent Development for the Chamber. “We look forward to continue working with the board in support of L.A.’s youth to help build a 21st century workforce.”
Max Arias, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 99, also voiced support on behalf of the labor union.
“If the last few years are any indication, the future is bright for the children and families of the LAUSD,” he said. “Board President Rodriguez and Vice President García’s commitment to improving the lives of students and school employees alike has been unwavering. From access to health care for teacher’s assistants to ensuring A-G for all, they have been consistently courageous voices on this board. We look forward to their leadership and our continued partnership.”