By Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1hdLPSW
11/3/13, 11:44 AM PST | Updated: 11/4/13 :: The puzzling saga of Superintendent John Deasy and the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education that played out over the past two weeks ended in a nearly five-hour closed door meeting last Tuesday in what more resembled a group therapy session than a review of a manager’s work.
It was a session that perhaps should have been held several months ago as the board changed its leadership and a new member came on to have a better understanding of the roles each had in managing the nation’s second-largest school system.
Those familiar with the closed-door meeting said it gave the board members and Deasy an opportunity to voice their grievances with one another and agree on how they can try to work better in the future.
Behind the scenes, Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who played a role in Deasy’s initial hiring, furiously worked the phones with board members to convince them to keep him on. Garcetti, who was in Washington, D.C., as much of the drama was played out, even got Education Secretary Arne Duncan to speak out on Deasy’s behalf.
Villaraigosa began calling board members as soon as he returned to Los Angeles from his fellowship at Harvard University — focusing on the reformers he had helped to elect.
- OK, I had a meeting in the secret board room where the five hour session took place on the day after. There was no crime-scene- tape or blood-splattered walls – but the room itself is the most depressing room in Beaudry – itself a depressing architectural environment. The room is windowless, painted a pathetic yellow ochre with green-tinged overhead fluorescents, uncomfortable mismatched chairs and one-step-up from folding tables. It’s a break room, redolent of stale coffee and pizza boxes. A refrigerator hums loudly; you know any cottage cheese inside is growing green and furry. It‘s like the visitor’s locker room in a football stadium – designed to foster poor performance.
I spent only two hours in the room …after five hours I would’ve agreed to anything!