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LA school board candidate responds to questions about credentials

Genethia Hudley-Hayes is campaigning to regain a seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education.
Genethia Hudley-Hayes is campaigning to regain a seat on the Los Angeles Board of Education.
Courtesy of Hudley-Hayes

L.A. Unified school board candidate Genethia Hudley-Hayes is fighting allegations she falsified her academic credentials.   She is one of seven candidates vying for the seat of former board member Marguerite LaMotte, who died in December.

"This is about the politics — what I consider to be personal destruction — as opposed to the issues we should be talking about in a school board race that is critically important," Hudley-Hayes told KPCC on Monday.

At issue, there is no record of an MBA degree Hudley-Hayes claimed from a partnership program with San Jose State, according to the LA Times.  Hudley-Hayes said she earned the degree “way back in 1972, 1973.  So long ago I can’t remember.”  No one can find record of it, she said, because the partnership program is now defunct.

The candidate also claimed she earned a doctorate from American University when in fact, she was issued an honorary doctorate from the less prestigious American World University, according to the Times.

Hudley-Hayes told KPCC that was merely a typo, which has been brought up as political fodder.  She said both degrees are legitimate and opponents for the South Los Angeles seat are looking to benefit by magnifying the issue.

"I think I am a serious competitor, and there is a record that can be put out," said Hudley-Hayes, who previously sat on the L.A. Unified school board from 1999-2003 and served as president.  She's also received endorsements from former L.A. mayors Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa.

Among Hudley-Hayes' six opponents in the June 3 election for District 1, two are prominent names with television exposure. Candidate George McKenna served as principal at George Washington Preparatory School in South Los Angeles and was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 1986 television movie, The George McKenna Story.  Candidate Omarosa Manigault appeared as a 2013 contestant on Donald Trump's The Apprentice.

KPCC would like to know what you think. Would controversy over academic credentials be enough to change your vote, or is a candidate's past performance more important?