LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel laid out her education platform today, declaring in a speech at a San Fernando Valley high school that she would “commit to being the education reform mayor.”

Speaking at Granada Hills Charter High School, Greuel said she would make “transforming our public schools” the “centerpiece” of her administration.

Her statements came a day after she challenged her rival Eric Garcetti to an impromptu debate on education. The Garcetti campaign, which had a conflicting event, quickly dismissed the challenges as a “political stunt.”

Unlike mayors in Chicago and New York, the mayor of Los Angeles has no formal role in running the Los Angeles Unified School District and cannot directly effect education policy.

Both Greuel and Garcetti were criticized earlier this week by outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for not making education a bigger part of their campaigns.

Villaraigosa made a failed attempt to take over the school district earlier in his tenure, eventually setting up Partnership for L.A., a non-profit organization that now runs 22 schools in the school district.

Greuel said today she would stand behind “parent trigger,” a mechanism put in place by a 2010 state law that allows parents to petition to take over a chronically low-performing and replace its teachers and administrators.

Since the trigger law went into effect, parents have attempted to take over schools in the Compton and Adelante districts, only to become entangled in legal fights.

This year, parents at the LAUSD’s 24th Street Elementary School used the parent trigger law to take over the school with the blessing of the district’s board and superintendent.

“This is progress,” Greuel said. “This is putting our students first.”

Greuel said she would also push for a comprehensive teacher and principal evaluation system that would make firing under-performing teachers easier and give support to effective teachers and principals.

“We know that the single most important factor to a child’s academic success is a quality teacher,” Greuel said, adding that she wants a “meaningful evaluation system that is fair and uses multiple measurements — including students’ test scores and in-class observations.”

She added she would work with LAUSD’s superintendent John Deasy to create a training program to better prepare teachers and principals as leaders, expand the after-school program L.A.’s BEST that she said she started with Mayor Tom Bradley 25 years ago, and improve students’ safety on their way to
school.

She also called for the next city controller to audit LAUSD to “slash non-school site administrative expenses and put those dollars where the kids are.”

Greuel said she would use the mayor’s position as a “bully pulpit” to put forth a “Bill of Rights” that includes protecting students’ physical safety and emotional well being, arts education programs and a curriculum that trains students for the workplace.

Millman said Tuesday the Garcetti campaign would work with Greuel’s to set up an education-focused debate in May. He said Garcetti has accepted an invitation from the Urban League and public radio station KCRW to debate education policy with Greuel, though it was unclear if that debate would cover
other subjects as well.

Garcetti’s campaign was not immediately available to respond to Greuel’s education platform, but education could come up as the two candidates will meet tonight in their first mayoral debate of the general election, hosted at the American Jewish University and to be aired on ABC7.