The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education has seven members. Board member Ben Allen ran for and won a seat in the State Senate in
the recent election, leaving an open seat. Ten people are now vying for the
Among the candidates are Ralph Mechur, who was appointed to the board in 2007,
and elected to a full term in 2010, but lost his bid for re-election in the November 4 election, and Tom Larmore, a partner in Santa Monica’s leading law
firm, Harding Larmore Kutcher and Kozol, whose principal clients are
Harding’s wife, Laurie Lieberman, is currently president of the board.
In a written statement, Larmore said, “I want to assist in addressing signi-
ficant issues pending before the District, such as the achievement gap, the ‘unification’ proposal from some in Malibu, and adoption and updating of the
LCAP, as well as the constant issues that surround school finance.”
He also wants to strengthen the district’s ties with the business community. Finally, he wants the district to create a “robust curriculum in financial
It should be noted that in 2008 developers funded a $700,000 campaign to fright-
en the school community into opposing residents’ Prop T that would have limited annual commercial growth.
Candidate Jon Kean is currently PTA President at Lincoln Middle School and past PTA President at Roosevelt Elementary. Kurt Schwengel, former SAMOHI basketball coach
and current kindergarten teacher applied, but teachers cannot serve on the board,
so Schwengel has withdrawn his application. Jake Wachtel ran last in the 2010 Board of Education election. A former teacher and coach, he recently served as PTA President at Grant.
Applicant Jennifer deNicola, a Malibu resident, is president of Malibu Unites,
a non-profit organization whose principal focus is removal of PCBs from campu-
ses and transparency on environmental and health concerns at Malibu High School.
Another applicant, Larry Droeger, an L.A. DA , has two children in school and a
third who’s just graduated from Malibu High School. He wants to ensure that his children have the diverse and vital educational opportunities, he had trouble finding in the rural community in which he grew up.
Sion Roy, a member of the Santa Monica Democratic Club’s executive committee,
is a cardiologist at Harbor UCLA and chairs the District’s Health and Safety
“I think I have the proper experience as a leader in the community and in our education system to be a valuable member of the school board.” he said in an
e-mail. “Finally, as a person early in my career who will start a family soon
and will be invested in the success of the school district over the few decades,
I offer a fresh perspective to the board. I hope that my application is strong-
Dhun May and Patty Finer placed seventh (5.169 votes) and eighth (5,148 votes)
in November’s election, and each of them has filed for the empty seat.
The School District will verify the candidates’ eligibility during the winter
break.Candidates will be interviewed in public on Jan. 115. The board could
choose Allen’s successor that night.