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Nick Melvoin

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Nick Melvoin (born 1985) is an attorney, former teacher, and current member-elect of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education in District 4. A former LAUSD teacher, Melvoin ran against Board President Steve Zimmer, who has been a member of the School Board since 2009. [1] The primary election was held in March 2017, and with no candidate securing more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off election, Melvoin defeated Zimmer in the run-off election on May 16, 2017.[2] Upon taking the seat, Melvoin, at the age of 31, will become the second-youngest member in the history of the LAUSD Board, second only to Kelly Fitzpatrick-Gonez, who was also elected to the Board on May 16, 2017.[1]

Early life[edit]

Melvoin was born and raised in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. He became interested in education at a young age because of the teachers in his family and his experiences as a volunteer at Camp Harmony, a camp for homeless and underserved children.[3] There, he became aware of the disparities in educational opportunities.[4] He graduated from Harvard-Westlake School, a private college preparatory school, in 2004 and from Harvard University in 2008.[1]

Career[edit]

Teacher[edit]

After graduating from Harvard, Melvoin joined Teach for America and began teaching English as a Second Language at Edwin Markham Middle School in Watts, Los Angeles, California. As a participant in the LMU-TFA partnership program, he received his Masters in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University, where he was the Urban Education Researcher of the Year.

During his time at Markham, Melvoin and more than half of the faculty lost their jobs in two rounds of layoffs due to budget cuts and LAUSD’s seniority-based layoff policy (often known as LIFO).[5] He criticized the impact of the layoffs on students’ education in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published in 2010.[6] Following the first round of layoffs, he got rehired, served as chair of the English department and started a school newspaper before his lack of seniority made him a target for layoffs again.[5]

Advocate and Attorney[edit]

In Reed v. California, Melvoin joined public school students, the American Civil Liberties Union, Mayor Richard Riordan, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and others to argue that LAUSD’s seniority-based layoffs violated the rights of students.

In 2011, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge validated a settlement, ending seniority-based layoffs in 45 low-performing LAUSD schools and capping cuts made in other district schools.[7][8]

Following the success of Reed v. California, Melvoin attended New York University School of Law as a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar. He served as chair of the Education Law Society and editor-in-chief of the Review of Law and Social Change. While in law school, he spent time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and in the Obama White House.

In 2014, Melvoin once again testified in court against LIFO policies, sharing his experience in Vergara v. California. He testified that the LIFO policy created a “toxic environment” at Markham Middle School and that students were being short-changed as a result.[9]

From 2014 to 2015, Melvoin was Director of Policy, Communications & Legal Counsel to Great Public Schools Los Angeles (GPS:LA), an organization focused on improving the efficacy and transparency of Los Angeles public schools.

As a teacher organizer for Teach Plus (2015–present) and an adjunct professor at Loyola Marymount University,[10] Melvoin is a vocal advocate for the improvement of LAUSD schools. In recent op-eds, he has decried the performance of some LAUSD schools,[11] called for new approaches to communication with parents,[12] and proposed changes to how LAUSD runs school board meetings.[13]

LAUSD Board Candidate[edit]

In March 2016, Melvoin officially declared his candidacy in LAUSD’s District 4. The district includes schools in Brentwood, Del Rey, East Hollywood, Encino, Hollywood, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Tarzana, Topanga, Westchester, West Hollywood, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Venice.[14] The seat is currently occupied by LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer, who has served since 2009. Zimmer's term ends on June 30, 2017.

The Beverly Press quoted Melvoin as explaining, “I am running for school board because I believe that every student in Los Angeles deserves the opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential, no matter where they live or what their families can afford…Once elected, I will fight tirelessly to build coalitions, promote innovation and create a better future for all of our students. I firmly believe that better isn’t just possible; it’s what our kids deserve.”[15]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Nick Melvoin declares candidacy for LA Unified school board District 4 seat in ’17, LA School Report, February 23, 2016
  2. Charter backers win their first L.A. school board majority, Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2017
  3. L.A.'s Inner City Schools Struggle With Layoffs, NPR, March 11, 2010
  4. Nicholas Melvoin ’14 joins the legal battle against education inequality, NYU Law, April 21, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Layoff Epidemic, New Republic, June 4, 2010
  6. At a Watts school, layoffs take a heavy toll, Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2010
  7. L.A. Agreement Sets Limits on Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs, EdWeek, October 12, 2010
  8. L.A. Teachers Union Loses Historic Lawsuit to ACLU: No More 'Last Hired, First Fired', LA Weekly, October 12, 2010
  9. Vergara sisters recall teachers who inspired them to join lawsuit, LA School Report, February 11, 2014
  10. Meet the Professor, LMU School of Education Retrieved on May 16, 2016
  11. How all-kids is the current LAUSD?, Jewish Journal, October 26, 2015
  12. Commentary: Miscommunicating and the decline of LAUSD enrollment, LA School Report, December 11, 2015
  13. Commentary: Cirque du LAUSD, LA School Report, March 17, 2016
  14. District 4 Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, Retrieved on May 16, 2016
  15. Nick Melvoin launches bid for LAUSD Board in District 4, Los Angeles Unified School District, March 10, 2016


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