New MUSD Board Member Refutes Residency Rumors

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

Montebello Unified School District’s newly appointed board member, Benjamin Cardenas, is refuting rumors that he does not live within the school district.

Cardenas, who currently serves as U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano’s (CA-32) district director, was chosen by MUSD school board members last month to fill the seat left vacant by Ed Chau’s election to the State Assembly. Following a short round of candidate interviews, board members voted unanimously to appoint Cardenas, conducting the first of two swearing-in ceremonies on the same day his appointment was announced.

Soon thereafter, rumors started circulating that MUSD’s newly appointed board member did not live in the school district, raising concerns among some parents about his qualifications for serving.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Nuevo Miembro de la Junta Escolar de MUSD Niega Rumores

The Montebello school district includes the cities of Montebello, Commerce, Bell Gardens, and Pico Rivera, as well as a section of East Los Angeles where the address provided to EGP by Cardenas is located, and where he says he has lived since 2009.

EGP confirmed Cardenas’ address with Angie Comer, a media associate at the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder County Clerk’s office.

“I think me residing in East L.A. might have created confusion,” Cardenas told EGP. “I think there’s a perception that you need to live in the city of Montebello in order to be a Montebello school board member.”

Possibly adding to the confusion if not concern, is where the new board member’s daughter attends school, which is not in MUSD.

After moving to his current residence, Cardenas and his wife decided to keep their daughter at a local charter elementary school that falls within the Los Angeles Unified School District, rather than changing schools, according to Cardenas.

He told EGP that his decision to enroll his daughter in the charter school was influenced greatly by the length of their school day. “We really liked the extended day [at her current school], it really works in terms of our work schedules,” Cardenas said.

“[Moving her] is a decision that my wife and I will make once my daughter finishes that school,” he said.

Although Cardenas has elected to send his child to a charter school, he said that does not mean he has any particular agenda for charter schools in MUSD.

“I’ll see what works,” Cardenas said. “Each school district has a model that works.”

Cardenas told EGP that he hopes once people realize he lives within the district they will be able to see the contributions he can make to the board.

“I’m more than happy to talk to anyone now that I’ve been given this opportunity,” he said.

As EGP previously reported, MUSD board members unanimously selected Cardenas to serve out the time remaining on a seat left vacant on the school board when Ed Chau resigned, following his election to the State Assembly.

To contact MUSD Board Member Bejamin Cardenas call the school district at (323) 887-7900 or email him directly at ben4musd@gmail.com.

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January 17, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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