Five candidates are running for LAUSD’s District 7 seat

The large district includes segments of four freeways

Lisa Fitch Editor | 2/27/2020, midnight

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education District 7 is an open seat because LAUSD board member Richard Vladovic is termed out in December this year. Five residents are running: Silke Bradford; Patricia Castellanos; Lydia Gutierrez; Mike Lansing; and Tanya Ortiz Franklin.

The District runs along the heavily-traveled 110 Freeway and includes parts of Florence-Firestone, Watts, Gardena, Harbor Gateway and San Pedro. It also contains some of the 25 schools in the region that had to be pressure washed following the January Delta Airlines fuel dump over South LA. Pollution is a big issue that OW wanted all five candidates to address.

Dr. Silke Bradford has been a middle and high school alternative educational teacher; and a founding principal of Henry Clay Middle School, moving it to the number one ranked school for test score gains in California.

She testified before the Senate Education Committee regarding AB 1871, which increased equity and accountability in California charter schools. Those facilities now distribute free and reduced-priced meals for students.

She has served as the director of charter schools for the Compton Unified School District (USD); the LA County Office of Education; and Oakland USD.

“As public health and public education are often intertwined, it would behoove both sectors to work together to ensure that our kids get the social-emotional and mental health support that we know they need,” Bradford said in a recent interview with Random Lengths News.

Patricia Castellanos is deputy director of L.A. Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and co-founder of Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles. She also was on the harbor commission. Castellanos believes that pollution solutions lie in partnerships with government agencies and other stake holders, including parents.

“I would hear stories from mothers who rushed children to emergency rooms because their lips were turning blue,” Castellanos said. “It’s an experience that way too many families have had. The level of childhood asthma in our community is more than double the national average.”

Castellanos worked on the clean trucks program for the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports to address pollution, investing and making sure the standards get enforced and creating the technology that brings the community cleaner air without sacrificing good jobs.

“I think with the school board, the issue is partnerships,” Castellanos said. “It does require those partnerships at the grassroots level and those who have expertise on environmental issues. Also working hand in hand with labor.

She admits this is not always an easy thing.

“This is where it does require some engagement with the federal government and that is a challenge right now,” Castellanos said. “We still need to push, whether a friendly administration or not.”

Although expanding mitigation efforts, like double-panning windows and improving air filtration systems may help inside the school, Castellanos knows that’s not enough.

“At the end of the day the kids still need to go outside and play on the playgrounds,” she said. “We all actually want a vibrant economy, but we don’t want that at our expense or at the expense of our children’s health.”