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.