Interview with Gregory Martayan, Candidate for LAUSD School Board District 4
Tell us a little about your personal background?
My family has been in the City of Los Angeles for over 75 years. My grandparents came to the city around 1938, migrating from the East Coast, and established themselves in the West Los Angeles area. I grew up in Hancock Park, in a great, diverse community with folks who hailed from around the world. Growing up I was particularly close with friends of my father – who were part of the Orthodox Jewish community – and their children.
What started your interest in politics?
I was drawn into politics from an early age, because I realized that in order to effect change, one must work from within. Being on the outside helps no one and gets nothing done.
Why did you decide to run for the LAUSD school board?
There was a case of young female student who was repeatedly molested and raped. Rather than protect her, the school district countersued her. They claimed she was the one who seduced the predator and that she was responsible for her own rape, basically re-victimizing the victim.
LAUSD elected officials have had a policy of working against students and families for many years, focusing on special interests and lobbyists. I’m going to change the narrative. Families, especially Orthodox Jewish families who have been ignored by the LAUSD for decades, will have a voice in my office and a vote at the table.
What are the main policies you support?
Our campaign stands for safe schools, accountability, and transparency. We believe in treating communities equally and providing them with services across the board.
Our safe schools initiative will focus on supporting our school police and placing more resources in the schools. The current elected officials have disarmed and dismantled the school police, by rejecting federal support and ordering the school police to stand down. We will put more money into the Restorative Justice program, and heavily fund training in Restorative Justice for counselors on all campuses. Currently only one counselor is assigned per high school, with no resources in junior highs or elementary schools.
We will increase accountability by opening the books and bringing the bidding process for projects into the public venue. We will assign a civilian oversight committee to watch over the budget. Equality and transparency is key to everything.
What do you most hope to change if elected?
Our plan will continue to be to represent the residents of the City of Los Angeles equally. We want to bring back what used to be the educational crown jewel of the United States of America.
What has been your favorite moment from the campaign so far?
The response of the community and outpouring of support. I’ve been speaking to groups around the city, and at one such event we were approached by a mother and daughter. The daughter was a victim of bullies, and she thanked me for standing up for children.
What is your relationship to Los Angeles’ Orthodox Jewish community?
The chair of my campaign is Mr. Andrew Friedman, and much of my support and many of my endorsements come from the Orthodox Jewish community, because of the crucial nature of this election.
Others in this race want to continue the attack on Jewish schools and their ability to function in the City of Los Angeles. We stand in support of our continued platform, which includes funding programs, bringing kosher food into public schools with high populations of Orthodox Jewish students, adding Hebrew as a language, and incorporating a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism amongst faculty.
We will also give the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as others whose voices should be heard, the representation they deserve on the board. It is time for the Orthodox to be represented, and represented well.
You recently visited Israel. Can you tell us about that trip?
We felt that it was crucial for our campaign to stand with Israel, especially in the wake of all the teachers and professors who have turned their backs on Israel in schools and universities across the country.
While in Israel, we visited schools from the town of Keshet in the North all the way to Southern Israel. We identified best practices, and talked with educators and administrators at every level about how they best served their students. We met with leadership of the Knesset and visited with United Hatzolah. I am committed to the State of Israel and to my brothers and sisters in the Jewish community of Los Angeles.
For more information, visit http://www.VOTEMARTAYAN.com