Jaime Aquino, LA Unified’s Superintendent of Instruction has resigned, according to Superintendent John Deasy and School Board President Richard Vladovic.
“Dr. Aquino served the students of LAUSD admirably for the past few years, Vladovic said today in an email. “He made a decision to leave the District and pursue other endeavors. I wholeheartedly thank him for his service to our students and District.”
As one of Deasy’s top advisors, Aquino led the efforts to change the district’s instructional protocols to the Common Core State Standards, including the district’s plan to purchase iPads for every student and teacher.
“I’m personally very sad to lose such a gifted and talented employee,” Deasy said. “It’s a real loss, and we’ll look forward to a very thoughtful transition.”
Deasy told the LA Daily News today that other members of his leadership team have grown disheartened by what the story called “the perceived loss of school board support for their reform agenda, which has led to increases in student test scores and graduation rates.”
“There are others on my team who are in a similar position (as Aquino), and I am trying to work through that,” Deasy was quoted as saying.
Aquino has not responded to several calls from LA School Report seeking comment.
There had been rumors of tension between Aquino and Vladovic. In a July 6 Los Angeles Times story, Vladovic acknowledged that he shouted at Aquino, but added that he thinks “very highly” of him. Aquino had declined to comment on the incident.
The Times story went on to say that the “incident and others became part of an ongoing internal investigation into whether Vladovic crossed legal or ethical lines with alleged verbal abuse.”
Tamar Galatzan, a board member representing communities in the Valley, said in an email statement: “Jaime Aquino has been an amazing and dedicated advocate for our children, our teachers and our schools. I am very sorry to see him go.”
Board member Monica Garcia also praised Aquino, citing in particular his development of the English Language Learner Master Plan. She credits the plan for helping to raise English Language Learner test scores by 28 points this year.
“I’m very saddened that he is moving on, and I’m hopeful that he will reconsider,” she said.
It’s unclear just why Aquino has resigned. Many behind the scenes are speculating that Aquino along with other district officials have been disheartened by the recent shift in the school board under Vladovic’s leadership – both in policy and in style — citing as the latest example, the slow pace of debate over funding of the Common Core curriculum, which was delayed again at the board meeting earlier this week.
Aquino has been pressing for approval so the district can make faster headway in the transition.
“Jaime’s the first to go,” said one insider, “But I think you’re going to see an exodus.”
Asked by the Daily News if he intended to leave, Deasy declined to comment.
Asked for her opinion on Aquino, Garcia replied: “I think he has incredible talent and feels like he needs to move. It is the job of the board, though, to be a place where people want to work, to be a place that recognizes talent. And we have a hole.”
Aquino, a native of the Dominican Republic, began his professional as a bilingual teacher in New York, winning acclimation as New York State Bilingual Teacher of the Year in 1990.
In New York City, Dr. Aquino also taught math and served as a science staff developer, a mathematics coordinator, a director of bilingual education programs, a delegate for the American Federation of Teachers, a curriculum writer, Deputy Executive Director for the Division of Instructional Support for the New York City Department of Education and Local Instructional Superintendent.
After several years as Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the Hartford Public Schools, he became Chief Academic Officer for the Denver Public Schools, where he was responsible for implementing a reform agenda that led to record gains in student achievement.
In July 2011, Aquino joined Deasy’s team as the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, a role in which he oversaw the local district superintendents, curriculum and instruction, special education, adult education, mental health and social services and parent and community engagement.
Aquino has a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Teaching with a specialty in Language, Learning and Literacy from Fordham University; a Master of Science in Bilingual Education, also from Fordham; and a B.S. in Psychology from the Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo.
This post has been updated throughout the day.