Expectations of John Deasy‘s resignation as superintendent of LA Unified have shoved aside almost every other matter before the school board at its meeting tomorrow, including a detailed review of the iPad program, which has now been postponed.
The board is taking up Deasy’s situation in a closed-door session, leaving only one item on the open agenda, and on a normal day, it would be the stuff of front-page headlines: introduction of a resolution from Tamar Galatzan to censure Board President Richard Vladovic “for conduct that has brought dishonor to himself, the School Board, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.” He has been accused of verbal abuse and sexual harassment, both violations of district code.
By board rules, a resolution can only be discussed, not voted upon, after its “notice.” A vote would come at a later meeting.
Vladovic has denied the accusations and has said nothing about them publicly. He has apologized for raising his voice at times but nothing more. It remains unclear if any accusers will initiate legal action.
As awkward as the episode may be for Vladovic, the censure possibility could not come at a better time for him, with the ruckus over Deasy’s situation deflecting attention away from it.
Whether Deasy leaves right away or in a few months, it creates an administrative power vacuum and a public relations nightmare for the district at a time the board is fractured by policy differences and embarrassed, if not weakened, by Vladovic’s predicament.
Predictably, Deasy’s departure — if he holds to it — has brought forth shouts of glee from the union, disappointment from the reform community and widespread uncertainty over the direction of district policy. One might conclude Deasy is either the best or worst thing that ever happened to the nation’s second-largest school district.
While UTLA President Warren Fletcher issued a quick good-riddance statement, accusing Deasy of ignoring concerns of teachers and other personnel, a letter to the board from 11 community education groups said his loss would be “devastating” to a district that can ill afford to “turn back to the failed policies of the past.”
A spokesman for Vladovic, Mike Trujillo, said the board president is a “strong believer in the policies that John Deasy and the board together have implemented.” But they are few, and the way forward is not clear.
Board members and their senior staff have largely remained silent about Deasy, apart from a few members expressing “shock” that he would leave. But a board viewed by many as a silent partner to the teachers union could hardly be disappointed with the prospect of finding a replacement more closely aligned to its policy tastes.
Whatever happens after tomorrow depends, in part, on the terms of Deasy’s departure. No doubt the board would initiate a national search for a replacement, filling the chair temporarily with, perhaps, a current deputy, a retired superintendent or, under the current circumstances, a lawyer.