KPCC's Adolfo Guzman Lopez aired a late Thursday update reporting that Board of Education candidate Chris Arellano has fudged his campaign claims of multiple college degrees from USC and UCLA. Both schools say they have awarded him no degrees. La Opinión and Guzman reported earlier in the day that Arellano also had covered up two theft convictions. From the later KPCC story:
Christopher Arellano told a compelling story during campaign appearances. He frequently said he'd dropped out of school after trouble at home, had turned his life around by enrolling in community college, earning a bachelor's degree from UCLA and two master's degrees from USC.
Now a USC spokesman tells KPCC Arellano has been enrolled there in the last four years ... but has not earned a degree. UCLA says it has no record of Arellano getting a degree there, either.
The Jewish Journal goes further, reporting that the candidate "did not complete the master's programs for which he claims to have degrees, according to the University of Southern California. Further, UCLA declined Thursday to confirm his bachelor's degree, saying only that Arellano's 'records are on hold.' In an interview, Arellano said he was unaware of a dispute about his record at UCLA, but he acknowledged he did not complete a required four units of classes for the Urban Planning component of the dual master's he has claimed at USC." The Journal also got hold of Arellano's statement Wednesday night to 200 union leaders about his criminal record:
"I am aware that my opponents have raised questions regarding my past," he said in a statement provided Wednesday night to the House of Representatives of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). "And yes, I did make some mistakes. I am not proud of these mistakes, but they have served to make me a better, stronger person. I am running for school board because I want to ensure that none of our children end up in the hopeless place that I did and make the same mistakes that I made."
Born Robert Christopher Bruce, Arellano said in an interview with The Journal that his mother was Mexican and his father Anglo and an alcoholic. He recounted dropping out of school and leaving Phoenix, Ariz. at 14, finally arriving in Los Angeles at 18, where he slept in a car.
"I have been like one of our kids who gets lost in the system," he said.
He began to get interested in theater and also hung out with Echo Park hipsters, who knew him as Bianco. He eventually changed his name legally to Christopher Bianco Arellano. Later, as an activist, he was involved in gay rights issues -- he is openly gay -- and the local Democratic party....
Following Arellano's appearance at the UTLA body Wednesday night, union delegates overwhelmingly voted to stand by their endorsement. At the meeting delegates were not, apparently, aware of questions regarding Arellano's academic status.
Arellano is a former field deputy to City Council President Eric Garcetti, who told the Jewish Journal, "Chris, I think, embodies somebody who has not only transformed his life, but also overcome a lot of hardship to be a success story, which is what we want to see a lot of youths in Los Angeles achieve," Garcetti said. "He was a dropout and overcame a broken home to work on behalf of social justice. He was able to put himself through college and graduate school. He was an extremely welcome, bright, articulate presence in the office."