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Rodriguez unseats Kayser in LAUSD board race

LOS ANGELES — Ref Rodriguez defeated incumbent Bennett Kayser in voting May 19 for the District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.

Rodriguez, the founder of a chain of charter schools known as Partnership to Uplift Communities, received 12,335 votes to unseat Kayser, who had 10,696 votes, according to unofficial results released by the City Clerk’s Office.

Rodriguez took to Twitter May 20 to thank his supporters.

“Thank you to everyone who sacrificed so much for this campaign,” he said in a tweet. “It was a community effort and is a community victory.

A native of Cypress Park in Northeast Los Angeles, Rodriguez had the support of college students from the Southeast area who were part of Students for Education Reform and campaigned actively for him.

Kayser, who has generally opposed charter schools, drew fire from the California Charter School Association, which put its financial might behind Rodriguez during the campaign.

A former teacher and technology coordinator for the district’s Independent Studies program, Kayser had the backing of United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s teachers’ union.

According to the Los Angeles Times, UTLA 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.

District 5 includes Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Bell, Cudahy, Los Feliz, South Gate and Huntington Park.