La Cañada schools election draws interest

This post is corrected. See details below. 

The latest resident to announce a campaign for one of three open seats on the La Cañada Unified School District board isn't all that far out of the classroom — a place where he thinks board members should get more involved.

Kevork Kurdoghlian, who served as senior class president for the La Cañada High School class of 2012 and was editor of the school's newspaper, is the fifth person to pull papers in a race that so far includes no incumbents.

Board members Scott Tracy and Susan Boyd are calling it quits this year, and Joel Peterson said he has not decided whether to run for a third term in the Nov. 5 race.

Potential candidates, who must file nomination papers by Aug. 9 to qualify for the ballot, include two other hopefuls under 30 years old. Former City Council candidate Joe Layton is 24, and Karyn Riel, a Los Angeles school counselor, is 29.

Warner Bros. executive David Sagal, 57, was the first to pull papers to run.

Dan Jeffries, 55 and a prosecutor with the Los Angeles city attorney's office, is the only hopeful so far to file completed nomination papers, according to county records.

Kurdoghlian, who turns 19 the day before the election, said he was inspired to run by his recent experience transitioning from LCHS to a full load of classes at Glendale Community College.

He hopes to forge partnerships with GCC and Pasadena City College — where LCHS classmate and close friend Alex Keledjian is running for an open board seat — that would allow La Cañada Unified students to earn college credit during high school.

Kurdoghlian recently launched an interactive public art installation at GCC that asked students to name one goal they'd like to accomplish before they die — in part a reaction to the suicide of an LCHS student earlier this year.

While mostly praising the work of current board members, he thinks the position should involve a more hands-on approach to campus life and classroom activities.

"The board isn't purely about budgets and policy. It's an education board, and sometimes I feel like the educational element gets lost … [and members] forget too much about the classroom experience," said Kurdoghlian.

With all the new faces eyeing a board seat and because the two members not up for reelection this year are only midway through their first terms, Peterson said he's considering a possible reelection bid to preserve the body's institutional memory.

"People have been expressing concern about having a five-member board with four years of collective experience," Peterson said.


Follow Joe Piasecki on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.


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[For the record, Aug. 8, 2013: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling of candidate Karyn Riel's name.]

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