SANTA MONICA/MALIBU—On Thursday, January 14, the Santa Monica Malibu School District Board Of Education will announce the new member to fill Councilmember Oscar de la Torre’s vacant seat.

The 23 selected candidates all met the criteria required and will be given five minutes to prepare a speech on why they should be selected to take over the SMMUSD Board of Education seat followed by the public’s comments.

The current board will go through the process of voting on the potential candidates until one of the candidates receives four or more votes. Superintendent Ben Drati will administer the Oath of Office for the appointee.

As per Education Code, registered voters who live within the district have the right to petition to select a special election to fill the vacancy, within the first 30 days from the date of the appointment. In the event that no petition is submitted, the new selected councilmember will serve until 2022.

On December 8, 2020, De Le Torre forfeited his school board position for a City Councilmen position. It is stated under government code section 1099 that elected members of government board cannot simultaneously hold unsuitable offices. De Le Torres disagrees and voiced his opinion to hold onto both seats, but no court case has been filed yet.

De Le Torre along with several other individuals have voiced there support of Jason Feldman who was the runner up for the Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School Board seat back in November.

On January 9, 2021, parents of the special education community sent a letter to the SMMUSD board with 110 signatures backing up the support of Feldman’s appointment.

Feldman has proven he is more than qualified as he has two children currently enrolled in the district and he is also a civil rights lawyer. He is an advocate for students with special needs. Feldman has mentioned social justice, layoffs, and inter-community divisions.

Another potential candidate is Keith Coleman, the second runner up during the November 2020 elections. Coleman received 396 fewer votes than Feldman.

Coleman is the founder of the Stanford Angels, Entrepreneurs of Southern California, along with being co-chair of the SMMUSD Intercultural Equity & Excellence Advisory Committee and the Parent Connection Group. He is also apart of the “Progressive Slate” for candidates running in the Democratic Party delegates for Assembly in District 50.

Throughout his application, Coleman stressed the importance of parent engagement and social justice within the district.

The board meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom. Members of the public who wish to make a public comment can do so by completing a Google survey sign up at, which will open 30 minutes prior to the meeting.