Jeffrey Frankel, elected to the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in November, died unexpectedly late last week, the school district has announced.
The school district -- which announced Frankel's death on Sunday, April 4, and described him as a loving parent and student advocate -- did not give a cause of death.
Frankel, who died on Saturday, five months after winning election to the school board, was a “shining example of what civic leadership is all about,” the district's statement said.
“Jeff was an amazing community leader," the statement said, "who happily volunteered so much of his time and energy for the betterment of our school district."
Board of Education President Matthew Brach described Frankel as a “passionate and untiring advocate” for students, especially ones with special needs.
"He brought with him a vision and a plan to make our community and district better," Brach wrote in a statement. "We will miss his insight and caring, as well as his friendship."
Frankel's daughter, according to his votersedge.org biography, was his inspiration to volunteer.
"A community working together is a powerful thing," Frankel's biography says. "I have been fortunate to experience the Palos Verdes community coming to my aid to fight for my daughter with special needs, Jillian, who was refused participation in extracurricular activities."
Frankel was a business consultant and spent time on the district’s Budget Advisory Committee. Frankel was also an appointed member of the Superintendent Special Education Parent Advisory Group and appointed vice chairman of the Parcel Tax Oversight Committee.
He was one of four candidates who vied for two seats on the PVPUSD board in the Nov. 3 election. He was sworn in with incumbent board member Linda Reid on Dec. 16.
Reid, in an email, said she was devastated by the loss of her colleague and is sad for his daughter.
“Jeff was motivated to serve by nothing but helping children, using his knowledge of special needs students and the district's budget,” Reid said. “He always had a kind word for staff and thanked everyone, and I valued our frequent conversations about a wide range of topics over his years as a volunteer committee member and our crazy ride together on the pandemic campaign trail. He made me a better board member. I will miss him a great deal.”
In an interview while running for school board, Frankel said that as a member of the Budget Advisory Committee, he had looked at ways to identify waste and search for unseen revenue opportunities.
“I have been encouraging PVPUSD to participate in a program designed to reimburse the district for many services that our Special Education Program students receive," he said, "such as speech therapy, physical, and occupational therapy, to name a few through the Medi-Cal system."
Reid, who is the Board of Education’s clerk, said the panel has 60 days to either appoint a provisional replacement or schedule a special election to replace Frankel to fill the four-year seat. An appointed member would serve until November 2022.
“If we hold a special election, the winner would serve out the rest of Mr. Frankel's term, through 2024,” Reid wrote. “Special elections are typically very costly, and I have some questions in to the county as to the cost.”