LAUSD employees file lawsuit against SEIU over union dues

Judge Rolf Treu affirm vergara decisionSeveral LA Unified workers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 over what they say is an improper collection of their full dues.

In the complaint, which was prepared with free legal assistance by the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF), the employes claim SEIU Local 99 union officials denied their requests to refrain from paying full dues, according to a NRWF press release. SEIU represents employees who work in a number of non-teaching jobs in public schools, including bus drivers, gardeners and cafeteria workers.

Under federal law set by the Supreme Court in the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, public employees that must join a union and pay dues as a requirement for employment can request to withhold payment of any fees that support political causes not related to collective bargaining.

“Because California does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be forced to pay union dues and fees to an unwanted union as a condition of employment. However, under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent, workers who refrain from union membership can also refrain from paying for union politics and members-only events,” the press release said.

The release also added that despite “the workers’ requests to refrain from union membership and full union dues payments, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to confiscate full union dues from the workers’ paychecks at SEIU Local 99 officials’ behest.”

The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit were identified by NRWF as grounds keeper Douglas Kennedy, bus drivers Eduardo Berumen and Griselda Moran and cafeteria worker Magi Shanagian.

“SEIU officials are stonewalling workers’ attempts to refrain from paying for the union bosses’ radical political agenda,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, in a statement. “This case underscores the need for California to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”

A spokesperson SEIU Local 99 did not return calls requesting a comment for this story.

 

Cortines promises fixes for LAUSD’s flawed computer program

updates1In his first open address to the LA Unified school board since he was rehired as superintendent last week, Ramon Cortines promised accountability, transparency and constant communication.

“I know the buck stops here,” he told the seven members during a brief address that included an update on the district’s flawed student data software program, MiSiS.

Cortines, who got an early start on the job Monday morning and spent the day in intensive meetings with the district’s top leadership, quipped, “I’ve been here two days going on 10 years.”

Then he outlined a series of changes to MiSiS that will be effective immediately.

At the top of the list is a two-month extension to Dec. 1, from the previous deadline, Oct. 23, for schools to submit the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced meal program, which determines the allocation of federal dollars to individual campuses for low-income students.

A school is eligible for Title I money only if at least half of the student body is enrolled in the federal meals program. A school receives even more money per pupil if at least 65 percent of low-income students qualify. When a campus reaches a threshold above 85 percent combined free and reduced lunch it becomes exempt from collecting applications for four years.

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UTLA calls for smaller class sizes at a morning press event

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North Hollywood HS PE teacher Brad Hodge speaks today at a press event about class sizes. (Via UTLA Facebook page)

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl appeared at a press conference today outside North Hollywood High School where he and other speakers focused on the union’s demand for smaller class sizes in its ongoing fight for a new contract.

Caputo-Pearl said that the most fundamental thing the union wants to communicate is “that our students are human beings that deserve personalized attention,” KNX 1070 reported.

The press event came as union and LA Unified officials are set to meet for another contract bargaining session tomorrow, the first since John Deasy resigned as superintendent and was replaced with Ray Cortines on an interim basis.

Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract, which is outlined in UTLA’s Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.

Students and teachers at North Hollywood High spoke at the press conference and talked about the troubles large class sizes are causing. Ninth grader John Huddleston said his physical education class has over 50 students.

“It takes the teacher so long to take attendance that it truly does cut into our class curriculum time,” said Huddleston, according to KNX.

UTLA said in a statement that thousands of students and teachers around the district were wearing stickers today that highlighted their class size and student/teacher ratios, KNBC reported.

When speaking to LA School Report yesterday, Caputo-Pearl was hesitant to characterize the change in superintendents as a positive or negative in terms of the union’s bargaining position.

“We are looking forward to talking to the interim superintendent about some positive direction about this,” Caputo-Pearl said. “I don’t want to speculate, just whoever the superintendent is, interim or permanent, we are going to continue to bring the issues that are affecting students, schools and educators to the table and we look forward to productive negotiations around that.”

Captuo-Pearl did say that he will continue to aggressively pursue a new contract even though Cortines is an interim superintendent.

“The condition that our schools find themselves in in terms of class size, in terms of schools not having nurses and librarians, educators that have not gotten a pay increase for seven years, that absolutely determines for us that we have got to pursue our Schools LA Students Deserve campaign aggressively,” he said.

Listen to the full report KNX report here:

Embezzlement, Poisoning, Murder? Welcome to LAUSD, Mr. Cortines

Law_&_Order_LA_Title_CardIn case there were any chance LA Unified‘s new superintendent, Ramon Cortines, had forgotten just how bizarro school board meetings can be, his first one back today as head of the district included accusations of embezzlement, murder and sexual harassment.

Welcome back, Mr. Superintendent.

While the school board voted unanimously to approve the $300,000 a year contract Cortines was offered to shepherd the district out of its current troubled state — $50,000 less than what his predecessor earned — a handful of speakers criticized him for the sexual harassment lawsuit that followed his departure in 2011.

During the public speaking portion of the brief meeting — during which anyone can have three minutes to address the board on any topic they please — Patricia McAllister, who identified herself as a substitute teacher who was fired, took it a step further.

She hurled a litany of accusations at the board, saying former Superintendent John Deasy “embezzled” billions of dollars from the district and claiming Cortines was guilty of sexually harassing district employees. Then in a Law & Order-type twist, she accused unknown persons of poisoning or murdering the late board member, Marguerite LaMotte, and recommended that an autopsy be performed.

Another speaker, Lady Cage Barile, addressed the board to oppose the return of Cortines. She also cited the circumstances under which he left his previous tenure as superintendent and called him “a disgrace these kids are to look up to.”

The sexual harassment case against Cortines was thrown out twice by a judge, and a $250,000 settlement that was to be paid to his accuser, fell apart.

Cortines, sitting beside board President Richard Vladovic, looked on impassively as the speakers criticized him and did not comment.

 

LIVESTREAM coverage of today’s school board meeting

livestreamGrafix250Today, available by LIVESTREAM, the seven members of LA Unified school board will meet for the first time since the high-profile resignation of Superintendent John Deasy and the selection of Ray Cortines as interim replacement.

At 10:00 a.m., the board is set to hear an update on the troubled computer system, MiSiS, which, has caused management and scheduling snafus at several schools. The board is also set to vote on the terms and conditions of the employment contract for Cortines as well as hear public comment.

In a closed-door session to follow, of note is a late addition to the agenda of an item listed as ‘Public Employment, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Schools,’  a possible look at the employment Michelle King, who was passed over to serve as interim superintendent after she offered up her services to replace Deasy.  The agenda is here.

At 2:00 p.m., the Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet to discuss the controversy over the district’s temporary suspension of the Parent Trigger Law will be discussed with a presentation by Gloria Romero, former California State Senator. The committee’s agenda is here.

At 3:15 p.m., the full board will return for a Special Session to report on the labor negotiations between the teachers union and the district. Agenda is here.

At 4:15 p.m. the Committee on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is set to meet to discuss, among other items, the Public School Choice Initiative, first launched in 2011 by then interim Superintendent Cortines. That agenda is  here.

LA Unified’s next boss? Round up the usual (and unusual) suspects

LA Unified superintendentNow that John Deasy has stepped down as superintendent of LA Unified, replaced on an interim basis by Ray Cortines, it’s open season on speculating who might be considered as a permanent superintendent.

In the second largest district in the nation, the challenges of finding a candidate who is qualified, interested in the job and gels with the LA Unified school board are sure to be imposing. The recent experiences of Deasy and his like-minded superintendents around the country who have struggled in efforts for change, would suggest that Cortines’s successor would need superlative policy credentials as well as great political instincts to bring opposing sides together.

A successor would also need to avoid the kind of mistakes LA Unified made with technology programs. Is such a person out there?

As Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality told LA School Report, “I don’t know a single person on earth who would want that terrible job. It won’t be a change agent. It will be a status quo candidate who will make life pleasant for himself by enjoying all the wrapping of the superintendency and being smart enough not to try and change a thing.”

In any case, let the speculation begin. Below is a list of possible candidates, compiled by LA School Report :

  • Alberto M. Carvalho has served as superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school system, since 2008. He was named Florida’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year, the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year and has worked his whole career for the district
  • Richard A. Carranza has served as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District since 2012. He previously served as deputy superintendent of Instruction, Innovation and Social Justice at the district from 2009 to 2012 and as northwest region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas. 

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Morning Read: Deasy is being paid but won’t advise Cortines

New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser
New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy. KPCC


Deasy’s exit reflects other school battles across the U.S.
Union leaders say Deasy’s exit marked a repudiation of his policies. Los Angeles Times


On his first day, Cortines feels a ‘sense of urgency’ at L.A. Unified
Ramon C. Cortines’ first day in his latest tour at the helm of Los Angeles Unified started in a familiar fashion: early, with his first meeting at 7 a.m. Los Angeles Times


Gloria Romero: Parents trigger change at failing school
Commentary: Increasingly, parents are mobilizing to “trigger” change at failing schools. Orange County Register


A New Breed of Journalism
There’s been a recent and surprising revival of education reporting, a resurrection driven by a new breed of journalism. Education Next


NYC Chancellor Fariña Forges a New Era for Nation’s Largest District
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s victory last November was a clear indication that many voters sought a clean break from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature school policies. Education Week

LAUSD teacher to keep marking the ‘nation’s report card’

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Shannon Garrison

Shannon Garrison, a fourth grade teacher at LA Unified’s Solano Elementary School, has been reappointed to the National Assessment Governing Board, which helps set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as the “nation’s report card.”

Garrison was appointed to the board in 2010 and will serve another four-year term.

“I am honored to have been reappointed to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) by Secretary of Education [Arne] Duncan,” Garrison said in a district press release. “I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from a diverse group of individuals from across the nation who care deeply about education and student success. My work on the board has deepened my knowledge of assessment methodology, item development, and standard setting. This learning has strengthened my ability to effectively assess student learning and evaluate the appropriateness of assessment items.”

The board, which is made up of politicians, school officials, educators, business leaders and others— is appointed by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education but operates independently and is responsible for developing the framework and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the NAEP’s assessments, according to the NAEP’s website.

“Ms. Garrison is an amazing leader with a distinguished career in the LAUSD,” LA Unified board member Monica Garcia said in a statement. “She serves our local 4th graders at Solano Elementary and will continue to serve our nation’s children through her work with the NAEP. High-quality instructional leaders are key to getting to 100% graduation. We are proud to have the authentic LAUSD perspective informing the national conversation on student achievement.”

At LAUSD, the district said Garrison has served as a data coordinator, bilingual and Title I program coordinator, writing coordinator, science lead teacher and member of the language appraisal and student success teams. She also received a Milken National Educator Award in 2008.

“Shannon is an exemplary teacher whose hard work and dedication endear her to staff and students alike,” Solano Principal William Bertrand said in a statement.

School cafeteria workers told ‘English only’ when handling food

espanol* UPDATED

A controversy is brewing at Harvard Elementary School where LA Unified cafeteria workers say they feel discriminated against after being instructed to speak only English during working hours.

According to employees at the Koreatown school, an “English only” sign was posted in the cafeteria last week, reminding employees that they could be dismissed for violating the district rule, according to the newspaper, La Opinion.

Most cafeteria workers at Harvard are native Spanish speakers, and 86 percent of students identify as Hispanic.

But district officials said today the workers misinterpreted the notice and that it only applies in narrow circumstances, specifically when food is being handled.

“It’s not that we’re telling them you can’t speak Spanish or whatever language they speak,” Monica Carazo, a district official told LA School Report. “It’s just that for safety reasons, when they’re handling food everybody has to be on the same page. If someone says, ‘Hot plate!,’ we want everyone to understand.”

Employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, told the newspaper the language ban extends to all communication on campus. One woman said workers were told they could only respond to questions from teachers or students in English, even if they were asked in Spanish.

“I feel like I’m being a little bit rude when teachers speak to me in Spanish and I have to answer them in English,” she said. In other schools, she said, she was allowed to speak her native language.

The district’s Food Services Handbook says, “Due to the need for safety and effective communication, the Division has implemented an “English Only Rule.”

It goes on to say, “The rule requires that employees speak in English while in the kitchen and other work areas during the work shift while performing job duties. This is required in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness of communication and to promote the safety of our employees and students. This rule does not apply to employees on rest breaks or during lunch breaks.”


 

* Adds language fro the district’s Food Services Handbook.

City measure would extend LAUSD school board term to 5 1/2 years

Steve Zimmer takes the oath of office for the LA Unified school board

Steve Zimmer takes the oath of office for the LA Unified school board

The Los Angeles City Council is considering a measure that would extend the terms of the next school board election winners to 5 1/2 years, from the usual 4.

The longer terms would only apply to the next two school board voting cycles, bringing the board elections into even-numbered years that correspond with other city and state elections.

The change is part of the city’s effort to enhance voter turnout by consolidating elections. Because of periodic orphan scheduling, school board seats are sometimes filled with only a small percentage of registered voters determining the outcome.

In the case of George McKenna’s runoff victory over Alex Johnson for the District 1 seat in August, just 9 percent of the district’s voters cast ballots. In 2013, only 23 percent of voters citywide participated in the mayoral election.

Several steps remain before the new schedule goes into effect. The City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday to ask the City Attorney to write an ordinance that would appear on the March 3, 2015 ballot, effectively changing the City Charter.

Then the council would have to approve the wording, probably by the end of the month, for the measure to seek final approval from voters.

The first group of school board members to be affected would be McKenna, Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic, as well as their challengers, in a primary scheduled for the same day.

Members up for election in 2017 — Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff — would also win the longer terms.

The proposed measure might give any candidate pause, considering the additional time commitment for very small renumeration: For a board member who has no other full-time job, like McKenna, the annual salary is $45,637. For a member who also works elsewhere, like Galatzan, an assistant city attorney, the reward is $26,347 annually.

$300K contract for Cortines comes before LA Unified board

LA Unified's ray cortines

LA Unified Interim Superintendent Ray Cortines

* UPDATED

If it’s Tuesday, there must be another LA Unified board meeting.

Now that the John Deasy era is over, the seven members begin facing more mundane matters, and this time, tomorrow, the 10 am meeting has only one item for open discussion before the members move behind closed doors to discuss, among other things, labor contracts and litigation.

The item for the board in the open session is approving an employment contract for Ray Cortines, the once and current superintendent who was lured out of retirement to hold the seat until the board finds a permanent replacement for Deasy.

According to board documents, the Cortines contract will run from today through the end of next June and pay him the equivalent of $300,000 annually, or $50,000 less than Deasy’s deal. Plus, he gets a car and a driver.

In closed session, the members will review progress — or lack of progress — in bargaining with eight labor groups, including the teachers union, UTLA, which has given no indication its demands are changing now that Deasy is gone.

The board this afternoon added an open meeting at 3:15 pm tomorrow as a formality to recognize issues the union is seeking to negotiate in a new contract.


 

* Adds notice of an afternoon open meeting.

Morning Read: Brown preps plan for school construction funding

Brown’s plan for fixing school construction funding
Capitol sources say Gov. Jerry Brown is developing a sweeping new proposal for righting school construction woes. S&I Cabinet Report


Ding dong LAUSD’s John Deasy’s done! What do we do now?
Commentary: The controversial superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District is out. Now what? Los Angeles Daily News


Public is still owed accounting on Deasy’s iPad emails
Commentary: Will the public eventually find out the truth regarding the question-raising emails between John Deasy and the two companies that won the contract to provide iPads to students? Los Angeles Times


National school boards group ends tobacco partnership
The National School Boards Association ended its health curriculum partnership with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. last week. EdSource


25 percent of low-income urban high schools beat the odds
A new report reveals that a quarter of low-income urban high schools are doing better than a quarter of their high-income counterparts. The Hechinger Report


Torlakson touts experience in tight re-election battle

Torlakson is counting on his years of experience and support from Democratic leaders to persuade voters to give him four more years at the helm of California schools. The Sacramento Bee

Deasy ponders a future that might include politics

Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with Superintendent John Deasy in 2011

Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with Supt. John Deasy in 2011

On the day after he stepped down as LA Unified Superintendent, John Deasy offered a glimpse of what may be next for him, and apparently the options include politics.

“I’m not going to speak about them specifically but I would give you the general topics,” Deasy told a group of reporters on a telephone press call hosted by Students Matter, the organization behind the Vergara lawsuit.

“One would be youth corrections,” he said. “Another would be working and supporting the development of superintendents, and the third would be a consideration for political office.”

While he did not elaborate on what kind of office or where that office might be, he said he planned to sleep in this weekend and take some time to think about his future.

“I’ll try to conclude my thinking on the next way to serve, probably by the holidays,” he said.

For the most part he seemed self-aware that his management style — one often called “autocratic” by detractors — made it impossible to continue working with the board and the teachers union, UTLA.

And he even apologized for that, in a humble-but-proud sort of way.

“I take complete responsibility for the consequence of my leadership style,” he said. “In both results and in my failing to have been able to modify or adopt a style as boards change. And I wish I could have found a better balance between my feeling of urgency in my observation of overwhelming peril and poverty for kids and the ability to have built a more unified will to move quickly to do that. And I was not successful at that piece.”

He added that people who “choose leaders that will produce good feelings and an era of no troubled waters” are essentially fearful of the consequences that come with “courageous public acts.”

Deasy also suggested that “labor” has been behind the removal of superintendents in the nation’s three three largest school districts  – New York City, LA Unified and Chicago Public Schools.

But when asked what roles iPads and his mission to get one in the hands of every student and the meltdown of a new districtwide student data system played in his separation from the district, he denied any connection.

“None,” he said.

Toward the end of the call Deasy was asked, “Isn’t part of the problem here that [reformers] have failed to convince voters in Los Angeles that your ideas are correct?”

“I don’t know how to answer that. I don’t run for office,” Deasy responded.

To which the reporter replied, “Yet.”

Wild social media reaction to John Deasy’s resignation

social mediaTwitter and other social media accounts interested in LA Unified news started blowing up late Wednesday night after LA School Report broke the news that John Deasy was stepping down as superintendent, and the online chatter has continued through today.

Check out our Storify feed below to see some interesting, funny and informative tweets and other social media posts about the news.
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Caputo-Pearl insists Deasy’s resignation not a victory for UTLA

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the teachers union, UTLA, stopped short today of saying he was pleased with former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy‘s resignation, instead insisting that achieving the union’s contract demands — not Deasy’s resignation — would be a victory.

“What’s going to be a victory for UTLA is actually winning the demands in our Schools LA Student’s Deserve campaign,” he said at an afternoon prerss conference at UTLA headquarters, referring to the union’s contract demands that include higher salaries for teachers, smaller class sizes and the end of teacher jail. “I think his departure offers an opportunity to actually address some of the demands in our campaign”

The union president has been one of Deasy’s most vocal critics over the last few months, rarely missing an opportunity to publicly hammer him on his policies, leadership style and fumbling of two huge computer technology initiatives.

But he always avoided directly calling for Deasy’s firing or resignation, and despite Deasy’s now official resignation, he continued to use aggressive yet pin-pointedly careful language that has characterized most of his attacks on the former superintendent. (See the attached video for highlights of the press conference.)

Caputo-Pearl called Deasy’s resignation “an opportunity towards a more collaborative management style and towards building fully-funded schools that serve all of our students” and a shift away from a “corporate turnaround model of public schools.”

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Cortines on returning to LAUSD a third time: ‘They called my bluff’

ray cortines

Incoming school Supt., Ray Cortines

No one was more surprised that Ray Cortines became the latest LA Unified superintendent than Ray Cortines.

“I hadn’t been planning to return, and I didn’t negotiate with the board,” he told LA School Report today. “The only caveat I put out was that it would have to be a unanimous vote, and I didn’t think it would be. I was taken aback: they called my bluff!”

Cortines, 82, a former school district leader in New York, San Francisco, Pasadena and twice before in Los Angeles, was named today as the interim replacement for the resigning John Deasy – the result of a unanimous vote by the board to bring him back. He served as LA Unified superintendent briefly in 2000, then again from 2009 to 2011, when he retired and one of the deputies he hired, Deasy, succeeded him.

What Deasy leaves to his former mentor is a district with improving student academic metrics but also whirlwinds of problems, not least a teachers union, UTLA, that had a balky relationship with the district under Deasy. These days, the difference in their bargaining positions for a raise in teacher salaries amounts to $188 million a year.

“Ray Cortines has more experience, skill and expertise at running a large urban public school district in the nation and maybe the world,” said board member Steve Zimmer, explaining why the seven board members turned to Cortines. “There simply is no one who could immediately step in and stabilize our district while continuing to build a collaborative trust needed for us to keep our momentum moving forward.”

Cortines said he’s ready to jump in, already with plans for two meetings on Monday, his first official day on the job: a session with the district’s labor negotiating team, followed by a meeting with the union’s counterpart.

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Ratliff: lone vote on school board against Deasy settlement

Monica RatliffWhile the LA Unified school board approved the contract settlement with former Superintendent John Deasy, the vote was not unanimous, several district sources confirmed.

In a long, closed-door meeting of the seven board members earlier this week, one of Deasy’s staunchest critics on the board, Monica Ratliff, was the lone dissenter. The six other members voted to approve the language and terms of the separation agreement, which was announced earlier today.

It is unclear, however, why Ratliff voted against the agreement, raising questions of whether she objected to some of the language, some of the severance terms or offering an agreement at all. Further, it was Ratliff, as chair of the Common Core Technology Project Committee, who asked for the district Inspector General to examine emails from Deasy to Apple and Pearson on the possibility that he steered the bidding to those companies.

By terms of his separation from the district, Deasy was absolved of any “unethical violations or unlawful acts” regarding any emails.

When asked to clarify the reason for Ratliff’s vote, her chief of staff, David Zlotchew, said, “No comment.”

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Deasy separation agreement: payout through end of year

hands shakingBy terms of the separation agreement between the LA Unified school district and John Deasy, the out-going Superintendent retains his his salary through the end of the year.

Deasy is remaining an employee of the district “on special assignment” earning his existing salary but not any additional vacation time. His payout will include the cost of his health benefits until June of 2015.

Until the end of the year, the agreement states, he may be called upon to assist in the hand-off to his replacement, Ramon Cortines, who is also his former boss.

However, it clearly states that he is “not to perform any DISTRICT work unless requested to do so.” He is also free to pursue employment, and if he gets one, his relationship with the district would end upon his starting date of the new job.

Deasy is also required to be available for any legal action involving the district.

 

Reaction to Deasy resignation as polarizing as his tenure

Alex Caputo-Pearl strike talks UTLA

UTLA President Alex-Caputo Pearl (file photo)

Former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy was a polarizing figure, earning almost equal parts praise and scorn, and naturally the news of his resignation has evoked similar opposing reactions.

Some have expressed disappointment and outrage over his resignation, while some can barely contain their glee.

In an email to LA School Report, Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Trigger, a group that helps parents overhaul failing schools, perhaps summed up the viewpoints of most Deasy supporters that student achievement should have outweighed other factors.

“While It’s certainly true that John departs under a cloud of controversy, it’s easy to forget that avoiding controversy is not the job of a superintendent,” he wrote. “It’s serving kids. By that measure, John has been the most successful superintendent in modern LAUSD history. Powerful adult interests have been working for years to oust John. Today was a victory for them and a setback for my children and all the children of the LAUSD.”

Maria Brenes, executive director of Inner City Struggle, a community group that works for improving educational achievement for urban students, said, “We are very grateful for Dr. Deasy’s work in expanding educational opportunities for students of color in LAUSD. We expect the School Board to move forward in this period of transition to ensure that the academic successes that came as a result of Dr. Deasy’s leadership, continue and grow.”

Another community group that worked closely with Deasy and the district — CLASS, or Communities for Los Angeles Student Success — expressed gratitude for the academic advances made during Deasy’s tenure.

“The thousands of families and educators we represent appreciate his unrelenting commitment to delivering a high quality education to the students at LAUSD,” The group said in a statement. “Dr. Deasy embraced a number of community-led efforts and policies that have resulted in tremendous gains for the district including a jump in four-year graduation rates to 77%; expanding Linked Learning to twenty-three high schools districtwide; decreasing suspension rates for students of color resulting in 37,655 more days spent in the classroom; and increasing the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses.” 

One of the victors in Deasy’s departure is United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), whose president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, has been unrelenting in his criticism of Deasy, including his policy of teacher jail, his “autocratic” style, his support of the Vergara lawsuit and Deasy’s gamble on two computer technology programs viewed by many as failures. The union also sought to paint him as a tool of reform movement.

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In resignation letter, Deasy ‘overwhelmed with pride’

images-1In his resignation letter to the LA Unified school board, out-going Superintendent John Deasy used most of his words to describe a school district that is far better off today than the one he took over in 2011.

“I am overwhelmed with pride in what this administration has accomplished for the youth of Los Angeles over the last 4 plus years,” he wrote, adding, “By every single measure of our work, the youth have a significantly better education today than they did more than 4 years ago. Measures of achievement, access, outcomes, agency, climate, and success are all substantially better than when we started this work. Graduation rates, achievement rates in math and English language arts, reclassification rates, AP course takers, safety, suspension, attendance, and so many others clearly point to a better life for students in our care.”

Deasy also praised his staff for working “ceaselessly to ensure a better outcome for youth,” and he alluded to the issues of the past months that have pulled so much criticism his way, specifically the iPad program and its’ tumultuous introduction.

Referring to a forthcoming report from the district’s Inspector General, who is examining emails between Deasy and the companies involved in the iPad program, Apple and Pearson, he wrote that he “look(s) forward to his conclusion and findings that will determine that there were no missteps on my part in the process whatsoever.”

While Deasy was known to have grown weary of friction with the board and his challenges in convincing members follow his vision, for the first time publicly he mentions the impact his job has had on him personally.

“Needless to say this has been hard work, in fact exhausting work,” he wrote. “I have neglected my family, my health, and my parent’s heath. We all carry the ball for a while, and then give it to others to continue. I have had this amazing opportunity and privilege. I am proud and honored, but it is time for a transition.

In a concluding thought, he thanks his ever-growing list of critics “for they have helped us see where we can do our work better, and that is what we do with each opportunity to improve. I also wish to thank my supporters. You have enabled us to move quickly to right wrongs in the lives of youth, but please do not be satisfied, there is so much more we need to accomplish.”

The entire letter is available here