A dispute between a political candidate and the Glendale Unified School District over free speech and security protocols found a resolution Monday.
Republican congressional candidate Johnny Nalbandian, who is running against powerful Democratic incumbent Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) to represent the 28th District, spoke at Glendale High School nearly two weeks after the former seafood tycoon was denied access at another district school, Clark Magnet High.
“We were respected, [and] I didn’t want to leave,” Nalbandian texted Tuesday about his visit to Glendale High. “It made me want to be back in high school.”
Nalbandian said he spoke to four classes. He hit on topics such as his parent’s emigration from Eastern Europe to New Jersey during World War II, his time as high school student-body president and the food services industry.
In a video from Nalbandian’s Facebook page, the former Donald Trump campaigner encouraged Glendale students to resist the media’s alleged manipulations.
“Don’t be brainwashed by the news media,” Nalbandian said in the video. “You all have beautiful minds, better than the news media. You have young, fresh, beautiful minds. Get out there and look.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 29 Nalbandian and his campaign manager, Clark Magnet 2016 graduate Tristan Mouradian, say they were stopped in a hallway at Clark Magnet after being invited by an instructor to speak with students in a government class.
After a short wait, the pair said they were told to leave.
“We were invited,” Mouradian said, “And we were going to speak about volunteer opportunities as well as what it’s like to run a campaign from the grass roots.”
Mouradian said Clark administrators responded, “First, we were told ‘their bosses said that we’re not allowed to speak.’ Then we were told we couldn’t speak because it was ‘political soliciting.’ Again, we weren’t there to talk about politics.”
Nalbandian offered another reason.
“I’m sorry to say, I really believe they turned me away because I’m a constitutional conservative,” Nalbandian said. “You see this happening everywhere. It’s a violation of free speech.”
Mouradian said he was incensed because that same day Schiff spoke to Daily High students at First United Methodist Church of Glendale.
“The biggest concern that we had was this wasn’t because of some type of rule,” Mouradian said. “They didn’t agree with Johnny on political issues.”
District communications director Kristine Nam said Schiff was invited to speak by Daily officials because he is “the current congressman.”
As for the anticipated visit at Clark, Nam said that Schiff and Nalbandian were both invited and, so far, only Nalbandian accepted an invitation. Nalbandian was turned away because of two issues.
“Clark has a policy that teachers must notify school administration of any planned classroom visitors for security reasons,” she said. “The teacher failed to notify administration prior to Nalbandian’s visit, which was a mistake on the teacher’s part. Clark administration has since issued a reminder to all teachers and staff about their policy.”
Nam added, “The second part was [Nalbandian] was invited to speak to the class about civic engagement, not to campaign. He showed up to campus in an election mobile with campaign materials and, when asked the reason for his visit, he said I’m here to recruit volunteers for my campaign. This violates California Education Code.”
Nalbandian confirmed he arrived at Clark in his “Victory Red” Chevy Suburban with campaign posters placed on five of eight windows.
Nalbandian contends that just because he drove a campaign vehicle doesn’t equate that he was campaigning.
Those complaints fizzled Monday as Nalbandian was invited to Glendale High and addressed what he hopes are his future constituents.
“After I’m elected, I will come to this school, trust me, at least two to three times a year,” Nalbandian told students in one class. “And we’ll have a town-hall type meeting with you kids because I love young minds.”