Sent: Friday, August 20, 2010 4:31 PM
To: All Los Angeles County Office of Education Staff
Subject: A Message From the Superintendent
To the LACOE Staff,
It is with very mixed emotions that today I am announcing that I have decided to retire as Superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education. My resignation will be effective Tuesday, August 31, 2010.
It has been my honor to serve in this position for the past eight years, and I take great pride in what we at LACOE have accomplished together on behalf of public education in Los Angeles County.
I have enjoyed being part of the LACOE family and the opportunity of working with such a dedicated and committed staff. I know that I leave LACOE in very good hands. Our Deputy Superintendent Jon Gundry will serve as Administrator in Charge.
I will leave with satisfaction that we have overcome a number of challenges and met difficult situations with professionalism. But as I pass through my 35th year in my career as an educator, I feel the time is right for me to make this change.
I do not know for certain yet what my next opportunity will be, but I have been exploring other options, and I know that I plan to stay involved in helping schools succeed and children achieve.
I will share more with you in my LACOEView message this Wednesday.
Darline P. Robles, Ph.D.
County superintendent of education steps down
Darline P. Robles departs amid criticism over program cuts and allegations that she allowed standards to fall at schools for juvenile offenders.
By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
August 24, 2010 -- The superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education is stepping down after eight years amid controversy over her decision to cut education programs and allegations that she failed to enforce standards at schools for juvenile offenders.
Darline P. Robles told agency staffers late Friday about her decision to retire.
"I leave with the satisfaction that through collaborative efforts with school leaders, classroom teachers and educational partners, we have achieved positive outcomes for students and made important strides toward closing the achievement gap," Robles said. "I feel the time is right to make this change and seek new challenges."
Her departure is effective Aug. 30. Robles was unavailable for comment, said agency spokesman Richard de la Torre. No announcement was made about a successor.
The superintendent oversees a regional education agency that controls a $1-billion budget, offers support programs for 80 kindergarten-through-12th grade school districts and provides classroom instruction for 8,000 special education students and an estimated 30,000 juvenile offenders.
When she was appointed in 2002, she was the first woman and Latina to be named to the high-profile post. Robles is credited with reorganizing the county education's Head Start preschool program into one that earned commendations from federal authorities.
But her tenure has coincided with some of the toughest challenges the district has ever faced, including state funding cuts that caused layoffs and other program cuts.
In addition, the agency is embroiled in a number of controversies, including a federal class-action lawsuit filed in January on behalf of juveniles incarcerated at the county's largest probation camp. The suit alleges that they are not receiving an adequate education.
Most recently, a decision by Robles to close nearly two dozen alternative schools — uprooting some 700 students on probation and others who can't attend traditional schools — was heavily criticized by the county Board of Supervisors, who appoint the education office's trustees and are responsible for selecting a new superintendent.
"It's accurate to say there have been tensions around rather important items in the last year in particular, and those concerns have been voiced rather clearly in a public way," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
●●smf’s 2¢: L.A. County is the only county in the state where the board of supervisors appoints the county superintendent and the board of education. In most counties both are elected - though in a few one-or-the-other (but not both) are appointed.
The Los Angeles County Office of Education is the largest local educational jurisdiction in the nation - with responsibility for oversight and and support of every school district in LA County including L.A. Unified - in addition to direct operation of the county's juvenile justice schools and other special programs.
It's about time LACOE became accountable to the people, parents, community members, taxpayers, educators and students of the county - rather than be operated as an another fiefdom - ‘serving at the pleasure’ of the board of supes - like the dysfunctional and newsworthy county hospital system, the foster care program and Department of Children and Family Services.
Dr. Darline P. Robles
Darline P. Robles, Ph.D., was appointed County Superintendent of Schools in June, 2002. As executive officer for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, she leads the nation's largest regional education service agency, serving 80 K-12 school districts that educate 1.7 million students. She also serves as ex-officio member of Los Angeles Universal Preschool and, over her 30-plus-year career, has received many recognitions and honors for service to her community and her work to ensure a quality education for all children. Earlier, Robles was chief of the Salt Lake City School District, where she was successful in closing the achievement gap and significantly reducing the dropout rate. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history at California State University, Los Angeles; her Master's Degree in education from Claremont Graduate School; and her Doctorate in education policy and administration from the University of Southern California.