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Conflict-of-interest complaint against L.A. school board member Ref Rodriguez sparks widespread concern

Los Angeles Unified school board Trustee Ref Rodriguez has new troubles after the charter school group he ran alerted authorities about a potential conflict of interest involving Rodriguez and $285,000 in transactions.

Early reaction to conflict-of-interest allegations against Los Angeles school board member Ref Rodriguez included silence, concern and calls for his resignation.

The silence was partly explained by his supporters needing time to process what became public on Monday: Officials at PUC Schools, a local charter school network, have filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission. The filing alleges that Rodriguez, who co-founded PUC, ordered the transfer of about $265,000 from PUC to a nonprofit that appeared to be under his control. An additional $20,000 went to a private company in which he might have owned a stake.

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In a separate matter, Rodriguez faces criminal charges for alleged money laundering in his campaign for school board.

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"Ref Rodriguez should resign immediately, and the state should double down on charter accountability."

-- Alex Caputo-Pearl

president, United Teachers Los Angeles

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“The conflict-of-interest allegations against Ref Rodriguez are serious, and CCSA is very concerned about them. We commend PUC for transparently coming forward about these issues. CCSA expects that everyone connected to the charter school movement conducts themselves with the highest standards of integrity and ethics, and are held accountable for doing so. We will maintain these values as the investigations into these matters continue.’’

-- Jed Wallace

president and chief executive, California Charter Schools Assn.

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“Any time there’s charges of improprieties swirling around, it makes it harder for anyone to maintain focus or be an effective spokesperson.… The extent that he’s having to deal with this, fairly or not, makes it that much harder to focus on things like proposals and improvement strategies because this is what people may be asking about instead.”

-- Frederick M. Hess

director, education policy studies, American Enterprise Institute

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“This type of behavior is exactly why we continue to push for greater accountability and transparency among California charter schools.... This misuse of public funds is robbing students of resources they deserve. Students, their families who place their trust in these schools, and taxpayers deserve much, much better."

-- Frank Wells

spokesman, California Teachers Assn.

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“When a teacher or an instructor at L.A. Unified is accused of impropriety, they would be taken away from their classroom or their office until the investigation is settled.”

-- Bennett Kayser

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former school board member who lost his bid for reelection to Rodriguez in 2015

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“Plan your day, visualize your day, invest in yourself. #MotivationMonday.”

-- Ref Rodriguez

who tweeted on Monday but did not respond to questions about the complaint

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