Will the fate of John Deasy, the beleaguered LA Unified school chief who evokes passion among both supporters and critics, come down to a school board vote at his performance review scheduled for later this month? We say unlikely. Here are the top 5 reasons why:
FOUR VOTES NEEDED (AND ITS PUBLIC)
When the board meets behind closed-doors on Oct. 21 at least four members must approve of Deasy’s performance to extend his contract beyond its current expiration, in 2016. Ditto for ousting Deasy — a consensus of four is a tall order for a fractured board, long plagued by in-fighting and competing ideologies. According to our math (see below) there are not many signs that four members are seeing eye to eye – especially when they know the vote would have to be made public.
The variables at play for each board member on ‘the Deasy question’ can be reduced to the election next March, when four of the seven members must defend their seats. School board elections can cost millions, pitting the teachers union against a coalition of SEIU and reform groups. Board members and even the teachers union, may want to avoid having Deasy’s departure become a campaign issue.
STUDENTS HAVE MADE PROGRESS
To complicate matters, the district has shown improvement under Deasy, and while the teachers union may condemn him, his policies and stances seem to be popular with the public, including his pivotal support of the Vergara lawsuit last year that challenged teacher tenure laws. He has modernized, streamlined and reorganized at LAUSD, prevailed under dismal economic conditions and formulated a budget this year that was praised publicly by every single board member.
BOARD OWNS iPAD CONTROVERSY TOO
Like it or not, the school board was complicit in every phase of the now controversial initiative to purchase iPads for LAUSD students. While Deasy is taking heat for his push to put iPads in the classroom, the board supported him in the effort, voting unanimously as recently as January to approve Phase II of the rollout. The board may now find it hard to make iPads an excuse for ousting him.
DEASY MAY LEAVE FIRST
Deasy has told close confidants that he is fed up with the hostility on the board, and is concerned about his health. The LA Times reports talks have been underway, and reaching an agreement would enable both sides to announce an amiable parting, leaving the ugliness of recent months behind them. This is the option that would suit his detractors on the board just fine.
WHERE DO BOARD MEMBERS STAND ON JOHN DEASY? Continue reading