Cortines ends meetings that take staff out of classrooms

Ramon Cortines

Ray Cortines

Superintendent Ramon Cortines has suspended all out-of-town travel and off-campus meetings for LA Unified’s teachers, administrators and classified staff, calling the time away from the classroom “unacceptable.”

Cortines, who has wasted no time issuing new directives to the staff that he inherited this month from John Deasy, relayed the decision today in a letter to employees, a copy of which was sent to LA School Report by a district staffer who asked not to be identified. In the letter, Cortines expressed clear frustration about the growing number of absences by teachers for professional development and other reasons.

“It has come to my attention that the number of substitute teachers requested for professional development during the school day has increased dramatically in the past two years,” he wrote.

District records show 770 substitute teacher requests were made for professional development activities on Friday, Oct. 17 and another 735 the following week on Oct. 24. Those requests do not account for teachers out on sick days. He called the statistics “staggering.”

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Thesis film examines bitterness of Crenshaw High reconstitution

Lena-Jackson_photo-3_Student-voices-rising-up-1024x577-1

(Photo via Crenshawfilm.com)

The battle over the fate of South LA’s Crenshaw High School is now over, but a new documentary film from a UC Santa Cruz grad student takes a fresh and hard-edged look at the bitterness and anger that was unleashed when the LA Unified school board voted to reconstitute the school in 2013.

The film, “Crenshaw,” is the graduate thesis project of Lena Jackson, who shot footage in 2012 and 2013 as the debate over Crenshaw’s future was being determined. (See a trailer for the film below.) 

In Jan. 2013, with the support of former superintendent John Deasy, the school board unanimously approved a plan to break Crenshaw into three magnet schools, firing all of the teachers and staff in the “reconstitution” process and making them reapply for their jobs. Deasy argued the school was one of the lowest performers in the distict and in need of drastic change. About half of the staff got their jobs back and the three schools opened the 2013-14 year as magnets.

As the film notes, many in the community viewed the reconstitution as a stripping of South LA’s cultural identity, as well as an unfair targeting of a community with fewer resources to fight the reconstitution than others.

One African-American parent in the film, pointing at the school board during a meeting, says, “You wouldn’t do this in Beverly Hills. You wouldn’t do this in the Valley. But because this is the last predominately black school in LA, you think that it’s OK? Look at these people behind me. It’s not OK. You reconstitute Crenshaw? We’re going to reconstitute you.”

Her remarks encapsulate the sentiment of the film, which focuses on the outrage some students, parents and teachers experienced during the reconstitution. It’s not so much an examination of the pros and cons of reconstitution as it is a look at the resentment invoked in those that opposed it and the insensitivity they perceived from district leaders.

“Sadly, the community ended up being not strong enough to ward off this battle,” Jackson told LA School Report.

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Despite board approval, Cortines opposes bond money for iPads

Child practicing multiplication on iPad

A day of iPad use at Cimarron Elementary

Barely a week into his job as LA Unified superintendent, Ramon Cortines is pushing back against the school board that hired him, voicing opposition to using any more of the $1.3 billion in bond money to buy digital devices equipped with curriculum for use in classroom instruction.

Three times since his first day on the job, at the start of this week, he has suggested that the district should not use voter approved capital improvement funds for the Pearson software that the board approved for the iPads bought from Apple.

In a statement from the district today, he said he is committed to providing technology to students, but added, “I still need to meet with the Common Core Technology Project team to learn more about the plans in place but I think we will need to identify alternative sources to fund the curriculum ongoing.”

This morning, he was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, saying, “I don’t believe the curriculum should be paid for with bond funds, period.”

And at his first school board meeting two days ago, he publicly disagreed with the board’s unanimous decision to use money from bond sales to pay for the $1.3 billion program, characterizing the expenditure as “stealing” from taxpayer dollars.

His public pronouncements would appear to put him at odds with a board that just hired him to replace the architect of the iPad program, John Deasy, whose handling of the program drew widespread criticism from the LA Unified community, including board members. Nonetheless, at every step in planning, the board approved Deasy’s approach to getting all LA Unified students a tablet or laptop.

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Weingarten pleads for ‘collaboration’ in Deasy aftermath

Weingarten at AFT convention

AFT President Randi Weingarten Weingarten speaking at an AFT convention

In a speech today  in Buena Park, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, cited former LA Unified superintendent John Deasy as a failed example of school district management and argued for collaboration over fiat as the pathway to success in public education.

“Collaboration is the vehicle that creates trust. It’s the vehicle that enables risk. It’s the vehicle that enables shared responsibility; it’s the vehicle that has all our backs as opposed to throwing us under the bus, or under the bicycle,” she told an audience of union leaders and school and district administrators from across the country at the West Coast Labor Management Institute. “And it’s the vehicle that gives parents confidence in our public schools and our public institutions.”

While she insisted that collaboration “is not a silver bullet,” she described it as “a way to engender collective responsibility.”

Her plea was to both sides the labor-management relationship, insisting that the “top-down” ways of leaders like Deasy, Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee have failed to achieve their promised revolution in public education.

To her labor colleagues, she asked, “Is a manager or a principal really going to be willing to help us solve a problem after we’ve punched the living daylights out of them? Really? Who would ever want to solve a problem if that happens?”

A full transcript of her speech is available here.

Commentary: Is the L.A. teachers union tone deaf?

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Steve Lopez

It was back-to-school night in August. A time for new beginnings and high hopes at Thomas Starr King Middle School on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border.

Then came an awkward moment.

With new parents and students in the room, a teachers union rep got up on a soapbox to lay out the labor issues that could lead to a strike.

“He could not have been more tone deaf,” said Tomas O’Grady, a parent who was in the room. “What a stupid thing to do, for a new group of parents excited about this school.”

O’Grady said the speaker is “one of the most amazing teachers at King,” so out of kindness, O’Grady reined him in by suggesting this was not the time or place for a labor rally.

“In an attempt to protect him, I spoke up. Because if it was anyone else, I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t have been to protect him, but to reprimand him.”

Read the full commentary here.

Commentary: Please, school board, focus on our children

Hispanic children LAUSD school board

By Michelle Crames

My daughter started Kindergarten this year, and part of why I enrolled her in public school was that things were getting better, and my belief that our family’s energy and resources could contribute to bettering our community. Two months after her start, we learn that Superintendent John Deasy, who has provided leadership during this turnaround, turned in his letter of resignation to the school board.

As a parent of three young children, I know it takes at least two parties to fight. Regardless of what you think of Deasy’s resignation, we all want to minimize the impact and distraction inevitable with such a leadership change. Can we please refocus our energy on what matters most, our children’s education?

I believe Deasy achieved a lot, but he certainly made mistakes. However, during the last several months, like many parents. I am most disappointed that our focus has shifted away from what is important, which is the kids. As an outsider, I feel that more time is being spent bickering and politicking than working to provide students with the best possible education.

The parents’ voice was largely absent in the recent feud between the school board and Deasy, but now needs to be heard. Lets put this behind us and get back to work on what matters.

In a city where 80 percent of LAUSD students live around or below the poverty line, the American dream requires great schools for our children. America is a land of equal opportunity, and access to quality education is the basis of that.

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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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$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.

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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Commentary: On a momentous day, where was Vladovic?

Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

What a momentous day it was. One superintendent out. Another steps in.

The LA Unified community and social media were alive with chatter — people sorry to see John Deasy go, people celebrating his departure, people happy to see Ray Cortines return for a third deployment, people wondering what the school board was smoking in bringing him back.

So many comments, opinions and responses.

But one person was conspicuously absent.

Board President Richard Vladovic had nothing to say.

Apart from whatever contribution he made to the district’s “joint statement” from the board and Deasy, he issued no press release. He made himself available for no interviews. He made no public appearances to talk about the day’s events.

He appeared to be missing in inaction.

At times of crisis and change — in a family, an organization, even a public agency — constituents want a comforting word that everything will be okay, that problems will be solved, that divisions will be closed, even if it’s more hope than certainty.

In the case of the LA Unified family, teachers deprived of raises for years might like to know there could be better times ahead, parents might like to hear that their kids’ schedules will be straightened out, students might appreciate encouragement to stay the course despite the messes created by the grownups.

If there were ever a moment for a leader to step forward at a critical time from within a bureaucracy wracked by divisiveness, technological dysfunction and public discontent, this was it. And the logical person to utter those soothing words would have been the school board president, the elected face of the school district, second-biggest in the country.

But in this case, the school board president had nothing more to say beyond the joint statement, or so his office advised.

Other board members were quiet, too, but they don’t set the board agenda. The board president does. Continue reading

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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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

Breaking news: LA Unified confirms Cortines is interim

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines

LA Unified has confirmed that the district’s former superintendent, Ray Cortines, will return to the post on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found for John Deasy, who resigned today.

Here’s the statement:

“The Los Angeles Board of Education has appointed Ramon C. Cortines to serve as Superintendent of Schools pending a search process for a successor superintendent to Dr. John E. Deasy.  The District appreciates Mr. Cortines agreeing to serve in this capacity.

“Mr. Cortines will begin his tenure on Monday, Oct. 20.”

 

Breaking News: LAUSD makes it official, Deasy steps down

Deasy cancels ipad contractLA Unified made it official: John Deasy is stepping down as the district superintendent. There was no mention of an interim.

Here’s the statement:

“Today, Superintendent John Deasy tendered his resignation as General Superintendent of Schools from the District. We thank Dr. Deasy for over three years of devoted service to the District and its students. In that period of time, academic achievement rose substantially despite severe economic hardships, and the students of the District have benefitted greatly from Dr. Deasy’s guidance.

“We look forward to jointly celebrating all of the successes of our students that have occurred during Dr. Deasy’s tenure as Superintendent.

“While the District’s investigation into the Common Core Technology Project has not concluded, the Board wishes to state that at this time, it does not believe that the Superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts, and the Board anticipates that the Inspector General’s report will confirm this.

“We further jointly desire a smooth transition in leadership. Towards that end, Dr. Deasy has agreed to remain on special assignment with the District until December 31, 2014.”

 

LAUSD appears ready to name Cortines interim superintendent

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines appears  to be returning to lead LA Unified for a third time.

With John Deasy resigning, Cortines was chosen unanimously by the seven member board, a condition Cortines insisted upon before agreeing to take the helm of the district, according to sources who were made aware of the board’s decision.

An official announcement is expected sometime today.

Cortines, 82, served for a brief stint in 2000 before landing the position permanently in 2009, following David Brewer’s swift and expensive departure. Ironically, it was Cortines who handed the baton in 2011 to Superintendent John Deasy, who was his deputy at the time.

Shortly after stepping down, his reputation was marred by scandal when a former LA Unified senior manager sued him, charging sexual harassment.

Cortines was Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s choice for the post in 2009, and under his direction, the district developed the “public school choice” model, which allowed a proliferation of charter schools to set up shop in the district. That put him at odds with several board members who opposed charter school growth.

He also steered the district through the first three years of the financial crisis, cutting a staggering $1.5 billion from the budget and massive layoffs. About 2,700 teachers and 4,900 other employees lost their jobs during that period.

Cortines has lead four other school districts: San Francisco, San Jose, Pasadena and New York City.

LA School Report incorrectly reported last night that Deasy’s deputy, Michelle King, would be named the interim, while a permanant replacement is sought.

BREAKING NEWS: Deasy expected to step down

 John Deasy, the beleaguered superintendent of LA Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, is expected to step down as soon as Thursday, according to five district and school board sources with knowledge of the situation.

After weeks of negotiations between lawyers for Deasy and the seven-member board, he submitted his resignation and signed a separation agreement that brings an end to his employment, well before the 30-day grace period he would have had in a case of dismissal by the board, sources told LA School Report.

The district is expected to make the announcement, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning. It is also expected that one of his chief deputies, Michelle King, will be named the interim superintendent while the board begins a search for a permanent replacement. Deasy, who succeeded Ramon Cortines in 2011, is LA Unified’s fourth superintendent since 2000.

The board several weeks ago had authorized its lawyers to begin negotiating a separation agreement with lawyers for Deasy. The final terms of the agreement were reached in the last day or so, with Deasy in South Korea on an cultural visit, said sources, all of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issues and legal restrictions against discussing a private matter.

Deasy was scheduled to return to Los Angeles by the end of this week. He did not attend the most recent board meeting yesterday, which included closed-door discussions of his employment status.

He was unreachable tonight for comment.

Deasy’s resignation after three years as superintendent brings to an end a volatile but productive period in the district with his tenure marked by dramatic improvement in student academic measures yet traumatic developments in programs undertaken by his administration, all at a time budget restraints have limited the district’s ability to support more personnel and programs.

He has made no secret of his growing frustrations with a board that has often been at odds with his approach to public education, more so since the school board elections of 2013 and last August reduced the number of members who supported his vision.

That vision — the belief that quality public education is a civil right — came to include his championing of a program to deliver an iPad to every district student. More than anything else, problems with the iPad distribution came to symbolize the collision between vision and reality, starting a drumbeat for his dismissal.

Nor was he helped by testy relations with the teachers union, UTLA, which has been a steady critic from the start of his tenure, most recently over his unwillingness or inability to raise teacher salaries to levels they are seeking in negotiations for a new contract.

 

 

An update: Deasy is still LAUSD superintendent, for now, anyway

Superintendent John Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

John Deasy is still the LA Unified superintendent.

The district board met for more than 13 hours yesterday, including seven in closed session, where Deasy’s employment status was on the agenda. But the members emerged after a final 30 minutes in closed session at 11 o’clock last night with no announcements.

That means that the beleaguered boss is still at the helm of the nation’s second-largest school district even if his continued association with the district remains uncertain.

Little is really known about what’s going on. The board has authorized settlement negotiations for a buyout package, but there has been no public indication that lawyers are close or even if they are still talking.

Short of a buyout or an outright resignation, the board has several choices: It could vote to fire Deasy under several scenarios, which include instant dismissal, which would leave him in charge for nor more than 30 days; or judging his performance, scheduled for Oct. 21,  less than “satisfactory,” which would mean letting him remain through the end of his “at will” contract, June 2016.

The thing about a vote to fire him is tricky. The board needs four votes to do, and the votes don’t appear to be there yet. As much as several members clearly want Deasy out, the board operates with a majority rule on votes. It seems reasonable to assume that if a majority wanted him gone, he’d be gone by now.

Anyway, Deasy returns at the end of the week from South Korea to await his fate — not to mention updates on Jefferson High School, MiSiS problems, iPads, Title I battles and all the other issues plaguing LA Unified these days.