Letter: Family and Politics

Letter to the Editor

Letter addressed to the SMMUSD Board of Education 

Two weeks ago, you heard from nearly three dozen parents begging you to back off a district vaccine mandate for kids. I was one of them. I also asked you to address rumors that former SMMUSD board member and current state senator Ben Allen—who had been curiously shadowing many of these meetings—was pressuring you to impose a mandate. 

You ignored the request. 

That same meeting featured a county health epidemiologist named Will Nicholas who tried to put our minds at ease on vaccine safety, but instead had to concede how little we really know about vaccines and kids. 

The same meeting also featured only two people supportive of a mandate—including Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association (SMMCTA) President Claudia Bautista-Nicholas. 

Only after the meeting did some of us discover these things were literally related. 

That Dr. Will Nicholas is, in fact, Allen’s brother as well as Bautista-Nicholas’ husband. Which, for those keeping score, means the teachers union president is the state senator’s sister-in-law. 

Furthermore, in March, Allen moderated a district-sponsored public health symposium featuring both his brother and Dr. Ben Drati—now scrubbed from the internet—where the relationship was apparently also not disclosed. 

So I ask: Who knew about this? Who orchestrated it and thought you could keep it secret? Who didn’t know? And what are you going to do about it now that you do?

Where’s the Santa Monica Daily Press? The Santa Monica Mirror? You wonder why nobody trusts you, why Malibu—which isn’t even represented by Ben Allen—so badly wants out of this god-forsaken district? This is why.

And if anyone from LACOE is watching: note that Santa Monica resident and former SMMUSD Board President Barry Snell, who attempted (and failed) to quash Malibu’s petition before the LACOE committee even had a chance to debate it, is featured alongside the entire Ben Allen extended family on the website opposing the recall of three members of this board. That alone calls for Snell to recuse himself on any matters related to Malibu. 

We need transparency on whether this board is responsive to parents—or politics.

Wade Major