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March 7, 2017 — Local Elections
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Los Angeles Unified School DistrictCandidate for Board of Trustees, Trustee Area 2

Photo of Carl J. Petersen

Carl J. Petersen

Businessman/Parent Advocate
3,696 votes (9.94%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Our children are not widgets in an education factory. The District must provide opportunities to all students. I’ll fight for music and the arts, special ed centers, vocational training, and the right to opt-out of standardized testing.
  • The LAUSD School Board needs a parent's perspective. None of the current Board members has a child enrolled in the District. I'm a father of 5 who has fought the LAUSD to get my children the services that they needed. Now I want to fight for ALL KIDS
  • Support the NAACP’s resolution calling for a “moratorium on charter school expansion and for the strengthening of oversight”. I'm not funded by the charter industry and have a record of holding charters accountable for the public funds they receive.



Profession:Businessman/Parent Advocate
Director of Logistics, Arecont Vision, LLC (2005–current)
Property Owner Board Member, Northridge East Neighborhood Council — Elected position (2016–current)
Chairperson, Northridge East Neighborhood Council Education Committee — Appointed position (2016–current)
Resident Board Member, Northridge East Neighborhood Council — Appointed position (2015–2016)
Office Manager, Unified Dispatch (2003–2005)
General Manager, J. B. Chemical Company (1988–2003)


University of Phoenix Bachelor of Science , Business Management (2001)
Musicians Institute Vocational Certificate, Drum & Percussion (1989)

Community Activities

Communications Chair, North Valley Democratic Club (2015–current)


As a father of five, I have personally seen what happens when the LAUSD’s massive bureaucracy stands in the way of our students. In my case, the district made me fight for the services that my daughters’ teachers agreed they required. I knew that my story was not unique and decided at that point that I needed to push for change.


My political activism goes back to 1988 when I had just moved to Los Angeles from the suburbs of New York to attend Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. I saw a flyer requesting help to defend against Operation Rescue’s planned attempts to shut down facilities providing family planning services and volunteered. Before long I was spending my Saturday mornings escorting patients into their appointments with the Feminist Majority’s Clinic Defense project.


Elections do have consequences and Bill Clinton’s election to the White House brought the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. This ended Operation Rescue’s activities in Los Angeles and gave me back my Saturday mornings. I settled into my life, got married, raised two children (Becca and Jessie), and bought a house in Van Nuys. Eventually, I continued the education I had begun at New York’s Pace University, getting a degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. I was living the American Dream.


This dream was enabled by hard work and a drive to improve myself. My first full time job was at J. B. Chemical Company, a small automotive care company in North Hollywood. I worked my way up from the factory floor to General Manager. After 15 years, I took a chance and left the security of this job to advance my career at Unified Dispatch, LLC, a startup company in Altadena. Shortly afterwards I was invited by Arecont Vision to manage their Operations Department as they progressed from development to production of high-definition security cameras. At the time I was hired, there was only one other employee. Eleven years later we have over 150 employees worldwide and manufacture our cameras in Glendale. I am currently their Director of Logistics.


Life does not always go the way we plan and in 2006 I found myself in the new role of single father. This was followed by the pleasant surprise of falling in love again (Sammy Hagar speaks the truth), moving to Northridge and marrying Nicole in a clandestine ceremony at Disneyland. As an added bonus, I became a father to Nicole’s triplets, Sydney, Zoey and Morgan.


In addition to facing the usual challenges of blending two families, I also had to quickly learn what it is like to parent two daughters on the autism spectrum. Coming into the their lives midstream did give me the advantage of not being there when the experts detailed all the things that they would not be able to do because of their diagnosis. This “ignorance” allowed me to set fresh expectations for their progress and caused me to ask questions when I felt that their schools could be doing more to help them reach their potential.


When my questions remained unanswered and local school officials told me that District rules prohibited them from providing needed services I took my fight directly to LAUSD headquarters at 333 South Beaudry Avenue. As day two of a marathon negotiating session ended, I turned to my wife and said that “someone has to change this.” My first run for public office was born.


In my first race I spent $0.69 for each of my 3,839 votes, the lowest cost per vote of any candidate in the 2015 citywide election. These votes helped push incumbent Tamar Galatzan into a runoff where she was eventually beaten by Scott Schmerelson. Last year I am moved into District 2 so that I could continue my fight to hold charter schools accountable for the public funds they receive and to improve the way the District delivers special education services.


In addition to work, family responsibilities and activism, I have also played drums in several local bands. I love the adventure of a good thrill ride and can often be found with the family at an amusement park. My blogs have been published in the Patch, OpEdNews and K-12 News Network. My wife and I also foster for The Gentle Barn. Life is busy, chaotic and satisfying.

Unlike others who have held a seat on the LAUSD school board, I do not see it as a stepping stone to higher political office. I have experienced the dysfunction of the district and know that the system needs to change. After speaking to other parents, teachers, classified staff and community members, I know that my feelings and experiences are not unique. My candidacy is about using my talents to find solutions. If you have any questions or would like to share your ideas for improving our district, please contact me at

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Network for Public Education (NPE) Action

Organizations (3)

  • Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) SoCal
  • Pubic Education Social Justice Advocacy (PESJA) Los Angeles
  • North Valley Democratic Club

Elected Officials (1)

  • Nancy Pearlman, Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District

Individuals (5)

  • Patty Lopez, Former California State Assemblywoman for the 39th district
  • Scott Gerber, former UTLA Special Education Rep.
  • Leonard Isenberg (PERDAILY.COM)
  • Kenneth Mejia, Candidate for Congress, District 34
  • Lauren Steiner, Lead Organizer, Los Angeles for Bernie Sanders

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My name is Carl Petersen and I’m a candidate in LAUSD’s District Two. In Los Angeles, School Board elections are usually described in the media as being a battle between two camps; the charters and the teachers’ union. That leaves the parents of the District stuck in the middle without a voice. If the LAUSD continues on the path towards bankruptcy, it is our children who will suffer. Shouldn’t we be involved in the decision-making process?


Of the seven members currently sitting on the School Board, none have a child who is enrolled in the District. As a father of five, I have seen the effects of policies set by this Board first hand, some with great results. When these policies have freed teachers from the bonds of the bureaucracy, I have seen them break the status quo to bring out the full potential in my children. I have personally witnessed programs that broke the norm and allowed my daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, to be included with her typical peers in a way that benefited them all.


Unfortunately, I have seen the worst that the LAUSD has to offer. I have a child who was promoted despite failure, without the benefit of summer school and who never fully caught back up to his peers. My wife has had her heart broken as she watched our daughter shunned in an environment that was supposed to be inclusive but just served to emphasize her differences. Our family had to fight the District because the bureaucracy stood in the way of providing service that our daughters’ teachers agreed they needed. As a father of children enrolled in the District, I know that we need to do better.


My decision to run in this race was solidified as I sat in a Board meeting on March 8, 2016, and listened to a Board Member state:


I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?


Our own kids? This District is supposed to provide ALL children with an education that encourages them to reach their full potential. It should not matter if they have special needs or are in general education. This should include those who are on the path to college and those who will find a job right after graduation. Those who are more stimulated by vocational training should matter just as much as those who gravitate towards academic subjects. Art and music should be available to all students. If we want 100% of our students to graduate, we need to show an interest in each and every one of them.


When a Board Member states that


I believe our biggest problem is  that most of our kids, all of our kids, can't read.


the District has given itself a failing report card and change is clearly needed. The children of the District need a productive member of the School Board who will fight for all of their needs, someone who can be entrusted to serve them for a five and a half year term. A father who has skin in the game.


My name is Carl Petersen and on March 7, I ask for your vote.

For additional information, please visit

Position Papers

Why We Need a Parent on the School Board


None of the current Board members has a child enrolled in the District. This has resulted in a series of bad choices that threaten the future of the District.



The LAUSD’s goal of “parent and community engagement” is stated in black and white on the District’s website. Unfortunately, the District’s actions often speak louder than those words. As an example, this past June the LAUSD School Board voted to continue a court fight with the parents of children with severe special education needs rather than to let them have a say in the type of education that their children receive. [1] Sitting across from each other in a courtroom does not count as “engagement.”


The decision to continue this litigation was made behind closed doors by a School Board that does not include any parents with children enrolled in the District. Teachers, school administrators, and even charter school operators are represented, but not the people who entrust their children’s education to the District. Recently the Board added a student representative to its ranks. Her vote is only advisory, but at least she has a voice in the discussion. Parents are relegated to public comment at LAUSD meetings where they are allowed to speak in front of Board members, who are often distracted by other matters and are prohibited from interacting with speakers.


A parent on the Board would help to ensure that someone who has a personal stake in the results is looking out for the safety and well-being of the students. In the same way that a parent would be unlikely to leave a hazard uncorrected on the neighborhood playground, it is impossible to think that a parent would have allowed “aging pipes and fountains made of lead” to continue “leaching tiny particles of the toxic metal directly into water” as the LAUSD did for seven years after a television news report initially highlighted the situation. [2] A parent whose children were directly affected by the MiSiS Crisis would not have waited for a judge to rule that students “continue to suffer severe and pervasive educational deprivations” before getting help to resolve the debacle. [3] The LAUSD unbelievably rehired a lawyer who argued “that an 8th grader who with a teacher learns maturity from the experience”. A parent with daughters enrolled in the District would have had an incentive to make sure the district employees responsible for re-hiring him were fired along with the lawyer. [4]


The quality of the policies set by the LAUSD Board has also been negatively affected by not having a parent to advocate for the District’s students. As an example, the number of charter schools has been allowed to grow to the point where the District is the largest charter authorizer in the country. In an attempt to “partner” with these  charters, the Board has allowed the Charter School Division to ignore its responsibility for regulating these schools. Without proper oversight many of these charters are able to cherry-pick the easiest to educate students, leaving the District with higher per pupil costs. A parent whose children are negatively affected by these costs is more likely to stand to the charter lobby to ensure that the rules are being followed.


If the LAUSD is going to survive, it needs to end the steady stream of negative headlines and convince parents that their concerns are heard. It is, therefore, imperative that a parent is elected to the LAUSD School Board on March 7, 2017.



[2]  Thousands of Children Could Be Drinking Lead-Tainted Water Years After NBC4 Exposed the Problem,

[3]  Judge orders state to fix Jefferson High scheduling issues,

[4] LAUSD Law,

The Unrepresented


Shouldn’t every family in the LAUSD be able to hold a Board Member accountable for the schools that their children attend?

Gerrymander: “manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

-Oxford Dictionaries

If one wants to see a visual representation of “gerrymandered”, the map of LAUSD District 5 is a good place to start. In an effort to carve our Hunger Game like districts, the mapmakers at the Los Angeles City Council took two larger sections and connected them with a long, thin ribbon that is sandwiched between District 2 and the LAUSD boundary.  Unfortunately for the residents of this ribbon, this creative mapmaking can mean that they do not have a democratically elected representative for the schools that their children attend.


One particularly interesting portion of this ribbon narrows to just three blocks wide and appears to have been drawn specifically to avoid including any schools. Moving the line over by just a few blocks would have included two schools. Instead, all families in this area send their children across the border to schools in District 2. If these parents have a problem at their school, they can contact the Board Member that represents this school, but what motivation does this Board Member have to help them? If this office fails to help the Board Member does not have to worry about losing their vote. Meanwhile, the Board Member that they vote for does not have any direct control over the schools their children attend.

Of course, this is not the only example of how the LAUSD fails at being a representative democracy. Despite an obligation to educate all children regardless of citizenship status, parents who are not citizens cannot vote and are, therefore, not represented on the School Board. Citizenship has not always been required in order to vote in the United States. “During the colonial and Civil War eras, noncitizen voting was permitted in 40 states and federal territories at different times, but it contracted during World War I and ceased altogether by 1928.” Until New York City put its School Board under mayoral control, “immigrants with children in the city schools could vote in local school board elections, whether or not they were legal citizens of the United States.” These parents pay taxes and are affected by District actions; they should also have a say in the governance of the schools.

Students are also not fully represented on the LAUSD Board. While the Board should be given credit for adding a Student Board Member during the last term, this role is purely advisory and not chosen through an election. No other group has a more intimate knowledge of the results of the policy set by the Board, but they have no say in the makeup of that Board. Allowing them to vote in these elections would also have the benefit of establishing “a lifelong habit of voting” and having “a positive impact on voter turnout for people of all ages.” Brazil, “Austria, Nicaragua, Argentina, some states in Germany and a canton in Switzerland have all lowered their voting age to 16.

Improving representation were just some of the types of reforms that I suggested in the LAUSD election process after the 2015 election. I hope that other candidates in both the LAUSD and City Council 2017 elections, including my competitors, will review these proposals and consider incorporating them into their own platforms. Feel free to take them, they were put forward to help the students of our District.

Setting Expectations


We need expect the most out of all of our children so that they will reach their full potential.

When you are parent of a child with autism, you get used to being told what your child cannot do. I think people do this as a way to protect you. Your kid is different and the sooner you grow accustomed to this fact the less you will be disappointed when your child does not meet the same milestones of their peers.


When these lowered expectations are driven by professionals, we are more likely to take them to heart. As a society, we tend to give experts a lot of weight. We send self-help books to the top of the bestseller list. Some will avoid getting a second opinion for fear of offending our Doctor. If a teacher tells us that our child’s lack of progress is to be expected due to their diagnosis, we tend to trust their expert opinion.


This trust in the professional can be used against us. The classroom that my daughters attended when I first met them seemed good enough. They loved going to school and would run and hug their teacher and aides when I dropped them off. They were not meeting the goals set in their IEPs, but this was all right. You cannot expect progress when your child has autism.


Then one of the girls moved to another classroom and suddenly one day she was reading “The Cat In The Hat” to me. This new teacher was in the process of getting her degree in Special Education and was excited to be teaching her students. She would learn a new technique in her night class and eagerly implement it in her classroom. Autism was not my child’s problem, it was her challenge.


In true LAUSD fashion, this teacher’s position was eliminated the year after my daughters graduated elementary school and they moved her to a kindergarten classroom. The babysitting teacher retained her position.


Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder. No two children with this diagnosis are going to present the exact same way. My two daughters are part of a set of triplets and they are both diagnosed with autism. They are completely different from each other. This lack of conformity makes predicting the future uncertain. An inability to achieve goals now does not mean that they will not be exceeded in the future.


I always make sure to keep in mind the story I once read about a girl diagnosed with autism. Since she had limited communication skills it was generally assumed that she was not retaining information from her surroundings. However, her parents continued to push and got her access to a specialized computer system in an attempt to give her another route to communication. Her first words using the system were “I like hockey.” Turns out the information around her had been received and she was intellectually able to join classmates her own age.


Our children grow partly because of the expectations that we set for them. We do not punish a misbehaving child because we want them to be sad, but because we want them to know that we expect them to behave better. We reward a good report card because we want them to know the value of working to the best of their abilities. If we do not expect the best out of our children, the chances are that they will settle for less than they are capable of achieving.


As I have written before, I came into my daughters’ lives blindly. I did not have the disadvantage of having to live through the heartache of their diagnosis and being told everything that they would not be able to do. I had the expectation that they could do everything that their sister could do, even if at a slower pace.


It was not long after I met my wife that one of the girls asked me for cake. When I told my wife of this request she reminded me that her daughter did not talk, but I had heard the word “cake.” Part of it was that I did not understand the other forms of communication the family had developed before me and she was forced to use something that I would react to. However, for me to listen I had to not have the expectation that she could not vocalize her wants.


It is sometimes equally important to remember that there are limitations that do exist. It does not hurt to push, but it does hurt to push too hard. Our same daughter tends to freak out in crowds. It is not uncommon for children with autism to have sensory problems and she can go into overload in certain situations. I will try to have her push through it at first by attempting to distract her or trying to make her feel more secure. However, if it does not work, I have to be prepared to move her to a place where she feels more secure.

Our daughters used to be enrolled in a state program where they were supposed to learn life skills that would make them as independent as possible as they become adults. However, when the budget cuts came, this program suddenly decided that my daughters were ready for graduation. I have higher expectations for them and know that the skills they have are not enough and that they can do better. This time we are not taking the experts’ word for it and we are going to trust our own instincts. The search is on to make sure that our girls have all the help they need to live their lives to the best of their abilities.

Videos (5)

— January 8, 2017 KCLS

The District says that “Disruptive Person Letters” are rare, but is anyone keeping track to make sure that they are not being abused?

Disruptive Person Letters are issued by principals within the LAUSD when someone interferes with the ability “to maintain a safe campus free of disruption.” There is concern among parents that in addition to protecting against “behavior that poses a danger to staff or students”, these letters are also being used to retaliate against those who question a school’s implementation of policy. For this reason, they are better known as Disruptive Parent Letters. On November 22, 2016, the LAUSD’s Early Childhood and Parent Engagement Committee held a hearing on improving the DPL policy. This video is my testimony before this committee.

While the policy revisions discussed at this meeting do make some improvements to the current system, they do not go far enough to prevent abuses. For a district that lists parent engagement as a goal, this is unacceptable. My latest in a series of proposed resolutions that I will introduce as soon as I take office offers my solutions to ensure that Disruptive Person (Parent) Letters are not Abused.

The District has been under the oversight of an Independent Monitor for 20 years. When will their attitude towards special education change?


On November 16, 2016, the Office of the Independent Monitor held its semi-annual public hearings about the services provided by the LAUSD to students with special education needs. This video is my testimony before Dr. Rostetter.


In order to show how I would govern differently than the incumbent, I have released several proposed resolutions that I will introduce as soon as I take office. The latest example is one that calls for Improving Special Education Within the LAUSD.

— February 28, 2017 Paid for by Carl J. Petersen for LAUSD School Board 2017 (ID# 1384794)

Lauren Steiner interviews LAUSD School Board candidate Carl Petersen about the threats of privatization.

Unfortunately, this was the only chance for the voters to meet all three candidates in one forum. It was held February 10, 2017.

— March 3, 2017 LA CItyview 35

Carl J. Petersen's candidate statement as produced by the City of Los Angeles' television station.

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