Alum challenges school board president


Nick Melvoin ’04 is challenging LAUSD school board President Steve Zimmer for the District Four seat. Credit: Noa Schwartz/Chronicle

Noa Schwartz

Alum and District Four L.A. Unified School District board candidate Nick Melvoin ’04 aims to lead the charge in implementing necessary change to modernize the LAUSD.

Melvoin is in the final month of his campaign process, with elections set for March 7. Melvoin is challenging LAUSD school board President Steve Zimmer.

Melvoin credits his interest in politics and public service to his time Harvard-Westlake.

“I was so lucky to go to Harvard-Westlake, and to have the education that we had,” Melvoin said. “[Harvard-Westlake] really inspired me to be in teaching after college, especially because of all the amazing teachers we had here. Then when I started to see how poorly the schools here were running, it became clear that the problem was larger than just any one classroom. At Harvard-Westlake, there was a focus on not just being good students but being good people, and that’s another thing that inspired me.”

Melvoin also attributes his passion for activism to his time working at Camp Harmony, a summer camp for children living in shelters in the greater Los Angeles area. He first volunteered during the summer of his sophomore year of high school, and currently serves as the camp’s programming director.

Melvoin’s official candidacy platform includes giving schools more local autonomy, promoting innovation, providing families with choices of schools, human capital overhaul and transparency.

“We live in a billion dollar school district that is wasting so much money every year and therefore doesn’t have money to do things we need,” Melvoin said.

Melvoin said that his short-term goals include changing the district’s fiscal situation, as well as improving graduation rates. He eventually aims to make District Four the most innovative and exciting district in the country, he said.

“There’s no reason we can’t do that in Los Angeles, whether it’s on the educational technology front, or with our innovative teaching practices,” Melvoin said. “So I’d like people to come to Los Angeles, look at our public schools, and be like ‘Oh, this is where cool change is happening.’”

Melvoin’s former English teacher Jeremy Michaelson said he is not at all surprised that Melvoin is pursuing a career in politics.

“Nick was a fantastic student,” Michaelson said. “He was always really talented, but he was always willing to put in the effort to do his best work. He was eager and engaged, he was a great listener, and not only am I not surprised that he’s pursuing this position but I’ll be even less surprised at his success.”

School President Rick Commons recently sent out an email to parents encouraging them to attend an L.A. Unified School District forum at the Skirball Center Feb. 27, and to vote in school board elections.

Melvoin said that he and his team have been working tirelessly to persuade people to vote for him by phone banking and knocking on doors every night.

“With all that’s happening in national politics, it’s all the more important that those of us who I think have better values and ideas get into office,” Melvoin said. “Right now, I’m just excited to be in a position where I can fix things.”