Commentary: Ray Cortines, the once and future

work begins zoneProbably no one has flunked retirement worse than Ray Cortines.  At 82, he’s signed on to steer the Los Angeles Unified School District for the third time.

Twice before he served as an interim superintendent, and he held the post for three years immediately before John Deasy’s tenure.

Cortines understands big city school systems.  In addition to Los Angeles, he was superintendent of New York, San Francisco, Pasadena and San Jose.  But why Ray again?

The answers are straightforward: peacemaking and getting things done.

The school board and the education policy elites (maybe) are tired of toxic warfare.  Cortines has a reputation of someone who can have a constructive relationship with the teachers and administrative unions without being a doormat.  He both charmed and bludgeoned the school board, threatening to resign if they misbehaved.  (Unlike most superintendents, he had a 30-day contract, which he would periodically threaten to not renew.)

And then there is the craft and politics of getting things done.  Most politicians, and most journalists, ignore the politics of implementation.  To them, reforming schools is about getting the right law passed or achieving a favorable court decision.  But as past school reform efforts in Los Angeles illustrate, the heavy lifting starts after decisions are made, not before.

Holding the school board together, implementing an agreement with the union when some teachers balk, attracting administrative leadership: all this is part of the political kitbag of seasoned superintendents.  Cortines is one of them. Continue reading

$300K contract for Cortines comes before LA Unified board

LA Unified's ray cortines

LA Unified Interim Superintendent Ray Cortines

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 meeting has only one item for open discussion before the members move behind closed doors to discuss, among other things, labor contacts 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.

 

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 meltdown 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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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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ACLU to seek state intervention at 2 other LAUSD high schools

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson speaks before the LA Unified school board on Oct. 14, 2014.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson speaks before the LA Unified school board yesterday.

Lawyers at the ACLU and Public Counsel plan to ask the state by tomorrow to intervene at LA Unified’s Dorsey High School and Freemont High School in a similar way that it stepped in at Jefferson High School.

The move comes after last week’s court-issued temporary restraining order (TRO) that required the state to fix an array of scheduling problems at Jefferson that led to several dozen students being placed in multiple free class periods with no educational value.

“We have documented [class problems] are present at Freemont and Dorsey. So we are proposing that the order that was issued as to Jefferson, if the defendants would agree, should be extended to those schools as well,” David Sapp, a lawyer for ACLU Southern California, told LA School Report.

Fingers have been pointed in different directions by the teachers union, the administrators union and the district as to who is responsible for the Jefferson situation. Blame has been placed on administrative turnover, teachers not altering their schedule to reflect evaporating grant funds and the district’s troubled MiSiS computer system.

The ACLU and Public Counsel represent plaintiffs in the Cruz. vs. California case that accuses the state of failing to provide an adequate education to students in nine California high schools by sticking them in free periods instead of real classes.

The TRO that was issued last week is part of the lawsuit and resulted in the LA Unified school board yesterday approving a $1.1 million plan to fix the problems, which includes adding more staff and extending the class day. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson appeared before the board and spoke in support the plan. Continue reading

Galatzan volunteers to lead panel on email retention policy

1-14-14-TamaraGalatzancrop

LA Unified board member Tamar Galatzan speaks at a board meeting on Jan. 14, 2014. (Credit: file photo)

Board member Tamar Galatzan volunteered yesterday to lead a task force examining LA Unified’s email deletion and retention policy, which is intended to eliminate unnecessary emails even as some some board members fear it could lead to the destruction of important records.

“It is critical that the public have confidence in the district’s commitment to transparency,” said Galatzan, who represents the most of the West San Fernando Valley and several East Valley neighborhoods, including Sherman Oaks and Studio City.

“We want to make sure we have a system that safeguards critical emails and lets us easily access them when and if they are needed,” she added. “We also want employees to be able to work efficiently, and to have clear guidelines for the types of emails they should be retaining.”

The current policy, established in 2012, mandates that all district emails be destroyed after one year or be automatically deleted. The only way to save emails for more than a calendar year is by saving or archiving them onto a hard drive.

The panel, which will include district administrators, representatives of district labor unions and members of open-government groups, will consider whether some types of communications should be automatically archived.

“At the September 9 board meeting, I raised concerns that the District’s records policy provided for the destruction of emails that could have value to the public as historical records,” said Monica Ratliff, who co-sponsored the resolution to form the task force alongside Bennett Kayser and Galatzan.

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LAUSD board gets a dispiriting lesson on the MiSiS program

Matt Hill, Ron Chandler appear before the LA Unified board

Matt Hill, Ron Chandler appear before the LA Unified board

MiSiS mistakes were made, and LA Unified can expect to fork over millions more dollars to fix the software system’s myriad problems and get the program functioning properly.

In all, it was another demoralizing revelation about the MiSiS rollout debacle last night, and school board members’ frustrations quickly boiled over, leading to a verbal beat down of Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler, who served as the face of a new request for $3.6 million to buy 3,343 desktop computers for the nearly 800 schools with the most difficulty accessing the computer student data software because their devices are incompatible with the system.

“This should have been readily apparent all along and it should have been one of the considerations when rolling MiSiS out,” said Tamar Galatzan, whose every statement on the subject ended with a verbal exclamation mark.

An obvious question to ask before developing the system, she said, would have been, “What kind of devices are members going to use to enter this data? Beside the fact that the system doesn’t work, if you don’t even have a computer that’s new enough to be able to run it, it’s just ludicrous!,” she said.

When Chandler tried to defend his department’s actions, noting that the district failed to invest scarce dollars in acquiring new machines as a result of the recession, Steve Zimmer went on the attack.

“That was not a choice the board got to make,” he said pointing a finger at Chandler.

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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.

 

Caputo-Pearl: ‘Shameful’ to blame Jefferson High teachers

Alex Caputo-Pearl at a news conference

Alex Caputo-Pearl, President of UTLA

The president of the teachers union, Alex Caputo-Pearl, today refuted accusations by LA Unified officials that teachers are to blame for the scheduling problems at Jefferson High School.

“Some district people, not all, have brought forward the idea of blaming the teachers, which is ridiculous and a red herring,” Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report. “There is actually more sections of classes as an absolute number offered at Jefferson than at most high schools.”

In an LA School Report story on Monday, several district officials said part of the blame for scheduling problems was on the teachers at the school for refusing to alter their schedule, which is an eight-period day that allows for two teacher conferences instead of the typical one.

Addressing the board during a special session dedicated to Jefferson, Caputo-Pearl said the district’s blaming of teachers “is shameful, actually, that there are district personnel who have tried to blame this situation on teachers and educators. The schedule that they have at Jefferson actually offers more than enough space, class sections and flexibility to offer the classes that would have been needed, had appropriate scheduling been brought forward.”

Caputo-Pearl said blame lies not with the teachers, but with the district and Superintendent John Deasy for changing administrators several times as the school year was about to begin, in one case installing one without expertise in master scheduling at the high school level. He also blamed MiSiS, the district’s new software system.

“Typical Deasy trying to blame things on the union. Its very clear that he didn’t have a plan for Jefferson, he put in an inexperienced administration in,” Caputo-Pearl said. “He minimized the role of MiSiS by saying for weeks that the problem wasn’t as bad. It’s typical Deasy to take something that was his responsibility and swing it around into the winners’ column.”

Caputo-Pearl also said the union believes an independent monitor should be placed at the school to make sure the temporary restraining order that was issued last week by a judge is carried out correctly.

Vanessa Romo contributed to this report. 

Independent investigator on MiSiS finds flaws from the beginning

computer-glitch-problems-LAUSDThe Office of the Independent Monitor, charged with overseeing the implementation of the MiSiS program, told LA Unified yesterday, in great detail, how the introduction of the student data system was a massive failure from start to (un)finish.

The district was forced to develop the computer software program as a result of a 1993 lawsuit to ensure that paper files on students wouldn’t be lost.

But the court appointed monitor, David Rostetter, concluded in his annual review that a vast majority of schools reported problems with MiSiS. Of 201 schools surveyed by Rostetter, the 197 respondents reported problems that impacted their ability to identify students with disabilities enrolled at their schools.

Further, the modules developed by LA Unified concerning attendance, counseling, discipline and grades duplicated functions fulfilled by another system the district was already paying for, but did so in an inferior manner.

Developing those features left little time to conduct appropriate testing of the program.

“During the development of the software it was noted that programming outpaced the MiSiS team’s capacity for conducting quality assurance (QA) work.,” Rostetter’s report reads. “It was also noted that the team lacked the adequate resources for QA testing, which resulted in several software code freeze dates not being met.”

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Teachers, loss of grants, personnel shifts — and MiSiS — played roles in mess at Jefferson, officials say

Jefferson High School Walk outs LAUSD

Students at Jefferson High School stage a walkout to protest scheduling problems on Aug. 25, 2014. (Credit: Vanessa Romo)

The scheduling mess at Jefferson High School emerged for many more reasons than a troubled new computer system, district officials and school administrators told LA School Report today.

Contributing factors included the loss of several key grants, which created a shortage in teachers, money and available class periods; the teachers’ refusal to make scheduling changes and a reshuffling of Jefferson’s administrators just weeks before school started.

“This is definitely not a MiSiS issue,” Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Intensive Support and Innovation Center for LA Unified, said in an interview. “It’s also a master schedule issue. Scheduling issues caused by MiSiS only exacerbated the situation on this campus.”

District officials, teachers and administrators have been meeting for days to craft an action plan to eliminate further disruption at Jefferson. Their result of their collaboration is scheduled to be presented to the district school board when it meets tomorrow.

Jefferson’s daily schedule is almost unique among LA Unified high schools. It includes two teacher conferences a day rather than the more typical one. When Jefferson teachers were given an opportunity earlier this year to vote to change to a more traditional daily schedule, which district officials said would have alleviated many of the problems that have left students with empty class time, they refused. Continue reading

Longer days, more classes proposed to fix Jefferson problems

Jefferson High LAUSDState and LA Unified officials have met with teachers and administrators at Jefferson High School to construct a plan for fixing scheduling problems plaguing the school since the academic year began in August.

Now the hard part: getting the problems fixed.

The meeting was scheduled as a direct result of a temporary restraining order issued by a Superior Court judge, ordering the state last week to intervene at a school where many students have been left without the correct classes.

The proposals will be taken up by the LA Unified school board at its meeting tomorrow.

“Since Day 1 of this school year, our team has worked with Jefferson High School staff to review transcripts, enhance the master schedule, as well as work to ensure that all students have access to courses that lead to graduation,” LA Unified Senior Deputy Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement. “Over the last 24 hours, we have reconvened these efforts once again to identify any ‘Affected Students’ as specified in the TRO.”

Superintendent John Deasy did not attend the meeting as he left on Thursday for a trip to South Korea.

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LAUSD says teacher contract demands unaffordable, union disagrees

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsIn the latest disagreement between contract negotiators for LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, the district says the teachers’ latest salary demand would cost way more than the district can afford while the union president charged that the district could afford it, if the district had the right spending priorities.

The new demand of 10 percent a year for one year came last week, superseding the union’s previous demand of 17.6 percent over two years.

Rob Samples, Assistant Director of Labor Relations for LA Unified, said UTLA’s proposal plus its request for an annual stipend of $1,000 per educator to cover out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies, would run about $250 million a year while the annual stipend would cost the district about $43 million per year.

“All together that adds up to $876 million over three years,” he told LA School Report.

In a statement, district officials said that “when combined with other projected deficits, the total impact is at least $1.35 billion over three years.” The statement did not discuss other contributors to the projected deficit.

In any case, the district said, the union demands would force the district to make numerous cuts in other areas in order to pay for the salary proposals.

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LA Unified officials taking aim at Jefferson schedule problems

Jefferson High LAUSD* UPDATED

Officials from LA Unified and Jefferson High School met for several hours today as they began to address the issues that have led to students at the school losing instruction time over scheduling problems.

The meeting came in direct response to a ruling yesterday by a state judge that requires state and district officials to correct on-going circumstances that have left students without classes during the school day.

“A District team met today with Jefferson Senior High School administrators and teachers to work on resolving scheduling issues,” LA Unified said in a one-paragraph statement. “They also identified any resources needed to meet the academic needs of students. The District looks forward to sharing this plan with the state, as outlined by the court.”

Officials from the teachers union, UTLA, met separately today with Jefferson personnel and developed a separate action plan.

The court directed LA Unified to develop an action plan for resolving issues in time to be presented at the Oct. 14 school board meeting.

The effort is now underway, led by Senior Deputy Superintendent Michelle King. The court order had ordered Superintendent John Deasy to lead the effort, but he left today for an eight-day trip to South Korea, after appointing King to lead the district team.

The focus of the challenge is Jefferson’s daily classroom schedule, which has been in effect for several years and generally includes two periods a day for teacher conferences. While district high schools have the freedom to devise their own daily schedules, most operate with only one period a day for teacher conferences.

As a result, said a district official with knowledge of today’s meeting, the solution rests in finding a balance that takes into account scheduling autonomy granted by the district, Jefferson teachers and UTLA.

The introduction this year of a new student-tracking system, known as MiSiS, “has only exacerbated” the situation, the official said, dismissing any assertions that MiSis “caused” the problems because the school’s scheduling pattern was in effect last year, as well.

The teachers union reported late this afternoon that the Jefferson faculty has developed a five-point proposal to address the problems at the school. The union said its president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, and a union vice president, Juan Ramirez, met with more than 50 Jefferson staff members, who proposed a five-point to deal with the scheduling issues:

  • Extend the instructional day to make up for lost classroom time.
  • Offer additional foundations and college-prep classes.
  • Redo the schedule of classes in the second semester to better serve students. (
  • Inform and involve parents.
  • Address other issues related to instructional time, such as filling vacancies with permanent teachers and reducing class sizes.

“The Jefferson faculty has always had the best interests of students at heart,” said Katherine Harrison, Jefferson’s UTLA chapter chair. “We are prepared to do anything possible to help our students succeed.”

Previous Posts: JUST IN: Judge orders state intervention at Jefferson HSComputer problems spur a student walkout at Jefferson High


*Adds information about UTLA meeting and action plan.

Community groups press school board again on Deasy evaluation

Community Groups LAUSD school boardCommunity groups supportive of Superintendent John Deasy have sent a second letter requesting a meeting with the LA Unified school board to discuss Deasy’s annual performance review.

In a letter sent yesterday to board President Richard Vladovic, the groups chided him for being unresponsive to their concerns about the lack of transparency in the evaluation process, which they conveyed in an earlier letter.

The letters were sent by Teach Plus, the Los Angeles Urban League, Educators 4 Excellence, United Way, Inner City Struggle and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“As Board President, we call on your leadership to help restore trust and confidence during this critical time,” the letter stated. “Decisions are being made largely behind closed doors, which will affect our schools, students and communities.”

The consortium of educators and community non-profits said it wants to meet with Vladovic sometime before the Oct. 14 board meeting to learn about the parameters for evaluating the superintendent. Further, the groups say they want those metrics to be made public.

“Superintendents and board members should be evaluated and judged, first and foremost, on measurable improvements in student outcomes – especially among low-income and students of color,” they said.

The LA Civic Alliance, which includes some of the city’s most influential philanthropists, real estate developers, bankers, lawyers and non-profit leaders, sent a similar letter to the board late last month, urging the seven members to put student interests first and keep Deasy where he is.

Deasy’s performance review is scheduled for Oct. 21, but there has been growing speculation that Deasy might leave his job before the meeting. In a closed session meeting last month board members floated the idea of offering Deasy an exit package, allowing both sides to part without a formal evaluation or vote to fire the superintendent.

The board is expected to continue the conversation during a closed session that precedes the Oct. 14 open meeting.

Previous Posts: Two groups urging LAUSD board to be objective, transparent

JUST IN: Judge orders state intervention at Jefferson HS

Judge Rolf Treu affirm vergara decision* UPDATED

A California superior court judge ordered the state to step in at LA Unified’s Jefferson High School and fix an array of scheduling problems that have left many students without proper classes and educational time since the school year began in August. 

In his decision, Alameda Superior Court Judge George Hernandez, Jr. wrote that “the court finds that unless the court issues a temporary restraining order, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury before the matter can be heard on formal notice.”

He also assigned blame on the district’s new MiSiS student-data tracking system, saying “scheduling failures were due in part to Jefferson’s (and/or LAUSD’s) inability to implement new scheduling software.”

The temporary restraining order request was made by Public Counsel and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California as part of of Cruz v. California, a bigger case that asks that the state be compelled to assure the quality of education for students from nine schools around California.

As a result of today’s ruling, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the state Department of Education and the state Board of Education must work with the district to ensure that the school place limits on amount of course periods without instruction at Jefferson, prohibit students from being placed in courses that they have already taken and passed, and to develop a plan to compensate the students for lost learning time, Kathryn Eidmann, a staff attorney with Public Counsel and a lead counsel on the case, told LA School Report.

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Request for help at Jefferson HS now in hands of court judge

Jefferson High School Walk outs LAUSD

Student at Jefferson High School stage a walk out on Aug. 25, 2014.

A ruling on whether the state needs to step in and straighten out the scheduling problems at LA Unified’s Jefferson High School is now awaiting a decision by a Superior Court judge in Alameda County.

As part of Cruz v. California, a bigger case seeking the state to assure the quality of education for students from seven schools around California, lawyers are asking the court for more immediate help in remediating an on-going situation in which students at Jefferson are left with no instruction during parts of the school day.

At the request of the judge, George Hernandez, Jr., the plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a revised request for injunctive relief and a temporary restraining order this week.

Hernandez has told lawyers in the case he needs more time to decide whether he’ll issue or deny their request to require the state to step in.

“The buck stops with the state,” said Mark Neubauer, a lawyer for the Jefferson students. “The state has the ultimate responsibility to fix this. It’s their burden, by the California constitution.”

In Cruz, the plaintiffs are claiming that they “receive far less meaningful learning time than their peers in most California public schools,” and that as a consequence they “have been denied and continue to be denied their right under the California Constitution to receive an education that is not substantively inferior to the education received by other students in California public schools.”

Two of the schools seven schools in the Cruz case are in LA Unified — Fremont High School and Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School. Another two are in Compton Unified — Compton High and Franklin S. Whaley Middle School.

The case is awaiting a response from the state on several procedural issues, and no trial date has been set.

Just how the state would return Jefferson to normalcy involves the same issues as Cruz but is a separate question. District officials have been working with school personnel to develop student schedules that fulfill student academic needs. Students, school officials and Alex Caputo-Pearl, president to UTLA, the teachers union, have blamed the problems on MiSiS, a new student-data tracking system that continues to plague the district with problems.


Previous Posts: Computer problems spur a student walkout at Jefferson High; Deasy supports state intervention in Jefferson HS scheduling mess