LAUSD Choosing New President Today at Special Meeting

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting today to select a new president to replace Ref Rodriguez, who resigned from the post after being charged with falsifying a campaign finance disclosure form.

Rodriguez remains on the seven-member board, but stepped aside as its president, saying he did not want to be a distraction.

“When I was elected board president, I committed to highlighting the Kids First agenda for L.A. Unified,'' Rodriguez said last week. “I remain committed to putting kids first, and so, in order to allow the board to remain focused on the hard work ahead of us, I have decided to step aside as board president.''

The board is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. at district headquarters.

Rodriguez, 46, was charged earlier this month with more than two dozen criminal counts for allegedly reimbursing nearly $25,000 to donors he listed on a campaign finance form. He was charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution, perjury and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Rodriguez was also charged with 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.

His cousin, Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, 45, was charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution and 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.

According to city Ethics Commission documents, shortly after Rodriguez began his campaign for the school board seat in November 2014, Rodriguez gave $26,000 of his own money to Melendrez and told her to funnel the money into his campaign by asking relatives to make donations. Melendrez enticed 25 relatives and friends to make the donations, then reimbursed them with Rodriguez's money, according to the commission.

Rodriguez filed a campaign disclosure statement on Jan. 12, 2015, and it included the 25 donations that had been reimbursed.

“In that statement, Rodriguez certified under penalty of perjury that he had raised a total of $51,001 in contributions from other people. However, nearly half of the reported funds were actually Rodriguez's own money,'' according to the Ethics Commission.

Rodriguez said he has been working with the commission to resolve the issue for nearly two years.

“As the product of an immigrant family, nobody has more respect for the integrity of the American justice system than I do,'' Rodriguez said. “I have cooperated with authorities and hope these issues will be resolved expeditiously and fairly.''

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