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Union-Backed LAUSD Candidates Accuse UTLA President A.J. Duffy Of Coercing Them To Drop Out

Fernandez, a retired teacher, said he had been candid on the union's questionnaire. The form asked if he had ever been convicted of a crime, and he accurately said he had not.

"I have not had an opportunity for due process," he said. "I haven't seen any evidence."

Fernandez is running against Luis Sanchez in District 5. Sanchez has the backing of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Coalition for School Reform. Escandon was running in District 7 against incumbent Richard Vladovic, who is also backed by the mayor's coalition.

The UTLA board is expected to meet tonight behind closed doors to consider whether to endorse the other candidates in each race.

Update: Fernandez's bankruptcy filing does not inspire confidence in his ability to lead a multibillion-dollar organization (all sic):

"When the original schedules were prepared, I was thinking about an alleged $17,000 state tax bill, having not filed returns for four years. On resolving that and settling on $300 per month to IRS and about $100 per month to the state I put my mind to all the monthly expenses I actually have and corrected some and listed them fully and completely in my recent amendments to schedules.
"Also the trustee made so much fuss about the old Chapter 7 filing in 1987, that further confused me and kept me from correcting and adding to my legitimate expenses. I was also harried due to a dispute with an auto dealer and problem with a dealer threatening a garnishment and the state and IRS-THREATENED Garnishment, this took my mind off all the details I missed. I was rushed.
"I have a fine reputation for honesty and good teaching and handling of highschool pupils under adverse and stressful working conditions at an over crowded inner city school in Boyle heights at Roosevelt High School for the last 24 years. The stress and working conditions in over crowded, large classes, behavior problems with students, lack of space and year round schedules are too much for me in my medical conditions. One teacher at school died last Monday of a heart attack. Many times drive-by shootings at work are affecting my health to the point where I have decided to take an early retirement."

Update 2: Escandon's UTLA questionnaire shows that he claimed he had never been convicted of a crime. He was convicted of DUI in 1997, disturbing the peace (drunk in public) in 1993, and failing to appear in court in 1994.

Update 3: This is interesting. It's a draft of a letter that UTLA wrote for Fernandez to sign. Note that even though this is essentially an internal squabble, UTLA still manages to take a shot at Villaraigosa.

Dear President Duffy,
I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for School Board.
I am withdrawing because I simply do not want this election to be about personal challenges I have had in my life. I'm sorry for not being more forthcoming. I'm human after all. That said, I understand how political campaigns work and I don't want this to distract attention from the critical issues that need to be discussed. The children, parents and teachers of LA deserve better.
The focus of this election must be about the future, not the past. Out of respect for the voters, I believe it is in everyone's best interest to ensure that this election is about putting children first. It is imperative that the dialogue of this campaign be focused on improving school safety and academic achievement, and not be about the inevitable personal political attacks from the Mayor and his "win at all costs" downtown friends.
Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely,
John Fernandez

Fernandez refused to sign.

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