In one of two Los Angeles Unified school board races before voters in L.A. County, incumbent Scott Schmerelson is seeking to defend his seat in a challenge from charter school employee Marilyn Koziatek in the race to represent District 3 in the San Fernando Valley.
Schmerelson is aligned with the teachers’ union and other school worker groups, while Koziatek is supported by charter school groups and school-choice advocates.
About the district:
It covers the northwest and parts of the southern San Fernando Valley, including Northridge, North Hollywood, Granada Hills, North Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park and Porter Ranch.
About the race:
Schmerelson, a retired L.A. unified educator, hopes to keep his seat in a runoff with Koziatek, who has children in the district and currently works at a charter school. Schmerelson led Koziatek by more than 14,400 votes in the primary, capturing 42% of the vote to her 32%.
This time, the outcome will be swayed by those who supported the primary’s third candidate, Elizabeth Bartels-Badger, who garnered 26% of the votes. Bartels-Badger now supports Koziatek, who’s largely backed by charter school advocates. Schmerelson is endorsed by the L.A. teachers’ union and other district employee groups.
The 69-year-old has worked as a classroom teacher, counselor and principal during his nearly four decades at LAUSD, according to his campaign website. He was first elected to the board in 2015. He’s currently the director of Region 21 of the California School Boards Association, and he previously served as president and executive director of Region 16 of the Association of California School Administrators.
Schmerelson spoke out against district leadership in support of United Teachers L.A. during the union’s 2019 strike. He’s endorsed by the union and other district employee groups.
He also has the support of three fellow board members: Richard Vladovic, George McKenna and Jackie Goldberg.
Koziatek, 39, works as head of tutoring and enrichment at Granada Hills Charter High School, a top-achieving school in the region. She is also the mother of two boys who attend a district school in Chatsworth, and could be the only board member with children enrolled in the district if elected.
Koziatek also chairs the education committee of the Valley Industry Commerce Association and sits on the education advisory committee for state Assembly District 38, according to her campaign website.
She’s endorsed by the California Charter Schools Association and other school-choice advocates. She also has the support of current board member Monica Garcia and several former board members.