Five to Run for 3 Seats on LCUSD Governing Board

Five La Cañada Flintridge residents have filed to run for three open seats on the La Cañada Unified School District Board of Governors in November.

Those who made the Aug. 10 filing deadline with the Los Angeles Country Registrar's Office in Norwalk include incumbents Andy Beattie and Scott Tracy and challengers Susan L. Boyd, a parent, investor Daniel Carl Mirisola and Joel Peterson, a business finance executive.

The other incumbent, LCUSD Board President Ron Dietel, has announced he will not seek a second four-year term because he wants to spend more time with his family and concentrate on other projects.

Challenger Mirisola told the Valley Sun in a telephone interview that he is running mainly because of an incident involving him at a board meeting in May.

The board meeting room at La Cañada High was crammed with teachers who came to express their disapproval of bogged down contract negotiations with the school district.

During the public comment part of that meeting, LCUSD Governing Board President Ron Dietel told the audience that 30 minutes would be allotted for public comment and that each person would be given three minutes to speak.

The second person to speak was Mirisola, who told the board that it was "inept" and had "failed" to provide his son with a good education in a safe environment. Mirisola continued talking past his allotted three minutes and was escorted from the room by a security guard when he didn't yield the floor.

His removal caused such a commotion that Dietel called a short recess. Teachers negotiations eventually went into impasse and a mediator has been brought in to settle the matter.

"I am mainly running because the board didn't like what I had to say and they had the security guard push me out," said Mirisola, who grew up in Burbank and has lived in LCF with his family since 1990.

Mirisola said parents, whom the school board works for, should be given a chance to speak their mind about their children's education. The purpose of the school board, he said, is to provide La Cañada children with a good education, it isn't a political thing.

Mirisola said that it is this restrictive atmosphere in the district that may account for such a large turnover in administrators. He said that his son, who is on the La Cañada High swim team, had three different principals while attending Palm Crest Elementary School had two different principals while he was in junior high.

"This constant change in management is not based on academic achievement or performance, its based on personal views," Mirisola said.

Mirisola said it isn't the job of the board to "micromanagement" the district, but to let the principals and others do their job.

"Our school district is what makes this town great. It helps the kids become better students, it increases the property values. I give the teachers credits for this because they will always be there. Administrators come and go like the wind," said Mirisola.

Although Susan Boyd is out of the country, her husband, Bill Boyd, spoke for her.

"She thinks the current board has done a good job with the issues and that it would be a good time to serve on the board because we have a new superintendent, new administrators and new construction going on at the high school," her husband said.

"She has served as a PTA president at La Cañada Elementary and a PTA at the 7/8 junior high. She was campaign director for the school board measures bond committee and she is current serves on the Bond Oversight Committee. She is a banker with 30 years of experience at Security Pacific and Bank of America," her husband said.

He said Susan will bring a number of things to the board. She has financial planning experience, experience with school district issues and parenting experiences because they have two children who attend school in the district, he said.

"Up until about four months ago, Susan turned down people who asked her to run for the board. But, so many people have recently asked her to run, that she thought she would. If the voters agree, she will bring her experience and her expertise to the board," her husband said.

The Boyd family has lived in LCF since 1990.

Incumbent Scott Tracy is finishing up his first four-year term on the Governing Board. He served as the board's president in 2003 and the vice president in 2002 and 2005.

"I feel strongly that I bring certain skill sets that are not currently found on the board, I believe it is important to have some continuity (on the board) as we bring on a new superintendent," said Tracy who has lived with his family in LCF since 1983.

"I think we have done a nice job dealing with financial matters in these times of difficulty. And we have done a good job of improving safety at the various school sites," said Tracy.

In addition, Tracy said, under the board's guidance, community access to recreational space has been expanded and improvements have been made to district-owned recreational facilities.

Tracy has been closely involved with local schools for more than 10 years and not just because his two children attended and graduated from LCF schools from kindergarten through high school. The incumbent has been a board member of the La Cañada Educational Foundation for six years and has served as the Foundation's president for two of those years.

Tracy is now one of seven trustees serving on the Foundation's endowment fund which is working on a plan to increase endowment assets to $10 million in the next five years.

Involved in corporate finance, planning and investment for nearly 30 years, Tracy formed his own firm in 2003 which deals with fund sponsoring and investing of corporate real estate.

His wife, Mary, is an elementary school teacher with the Glendale Unified School District.

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