Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 – 6:23 PM
By Matt Lopez
As the Beverly Hills Board of Education race heats up, one candidate has drawn the ire from the very school district he is hoping to be elected to the governing body of.
Mel Spitz, who served on the Board of Education in the 1970s, came under fire from the Beverly Hills Unified School District this week after a campaign video was uploaded to Spitz’s YouTube page over the weekend, filmed in a Beverly Hills High School classroom.
The problem is, according to the District, Spitz, who on his campaign website pledges to “end micromanagement by School Board members and restore the Superintendent’s authority and leadership,” never asked for or received clearance from anyone at the District, and failed to follow established procedures to use BHUSD facilities to film his campaign spot.
In a strongly-worded statement released Wednesday afternoon, the District says after a “thorough review” of the video, it was determined that it was filmed in a history class on the BHHS campus.
The statement continued: “Mr. Spitz failed to follow the District’s policies and procedures which require any individual seeking use of a District facility to complete the District’s ‘Application and Agreement For Use Of Facilities,’ readily available on the District’s website. Furthermore, Mr. Spitz did not seek permission from any District administrator, including the High School Principal, prior to his use of the classroom… The District expects all individuals, including candidates for the Governing Board, to adhere to the state laws and the District’s policies and procedures.”
BHUSD’s statement notes Education Code Section 7054(a), which prohibits the use of any District “services, supplies, or equipment for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.”
BHHS Principal David Jackson told The Courier Wednesday that it is believed the video was filmed during the Board of Education’s most recent meeting, on Sept. 29. Jackson said a custodian working in the building let unidentified people into the classroom after they approached him and convinced him they had received clearance to use the classroom. Jackson said it is not believed that District camera equipment was used to film the YouTube spot, as it was all in use to live stream the ongoing Board of Education meeting.
Jackson confirmed that he was never given notice of use of the classroom for filming.
“I would not have approved it, absolutely not,” Jackson said. “You have to pay for the rental of the room, provide proof of insurance, all the sorts of things we do in situations like that.”’
The video shows Spitz in a classroom, walking along a row of desks and stating his case for election to the school board. At the end of the video, he is joined by his grandson, a fifth-grader at El Rodeo.
Jackson said in light of the filming of the video, BHHS is working to heighten enforcement efforts on who is allowed on campus.
“We are talking to our night staff, custodial staff and everyone here to make sure they understand that unless someone has a permit they can show them, to get a hold of myself or one of my assistant principals if there are any concerns,” Jackson said.
A call and e-mail left with Spitz’s campaign Wednesday afternoon were not returned as of this e-blast. Spitz is one of five candidates running for three open seats in the Board of Education election on Nov. 3.