Friday, June 26, 2015


By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News |

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines announced that he is leaving his post in six months. (Daily News file photo)

Posted: 06/25/15, 2:11 PM PDT | Updated: 6/16/15  ::  The president of Los Angeles Unified’s school board said Thursday he expects the search for and selection of a new superintendent to last about seven months once the school board begins the process.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines announced earlier this week he would step down in six months. But if need be, Deputy Superintendent Michelle King could step in to run the nation’s second-largest school district while the board finishes selecting his successor, board President Richard Vladovic said.

“If it’s not finished and Ray is leaving, we have a senior deputy superintendent and I feel very confident in her abilities,” Vladovic said. “But I’m going to lobby Ray to stay if it’s a month or two longer; hopefully, he would stay until the process is over.”

Cortines’ current plan calls for leaving the district midway through next year and six months before his contract expires.

Cortines, who turns 83 in July, came out of retirement in October for his third tour at the helm of LAUSD. He replaced John Deasy, who suddenly resigned under scrutiny for two botched technology initiatives: iPads and the record-keeping system MiSiS.

The search and selection process, Vladovic said, should follow best practices. Accordingly, Vladovic said he has collected information to help guide the process from the Council of Great City Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based organization with member school districts around the country, and the California School Boards Association.

The Council of Great City Schools, Vladovic said, projects a seven-month period for culling candidates and selecting a superintendent.

But first, the school board will need to pick a search firm. Vladovic said the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has provided suggestions for selecting a search firm.

All of the information, he said, is being placed in packets for distribution to board members before their meeting July 1. At that meeting, two new board members, Scott Schmerelson and Ref Rodriguez, will be sworn in. The school board will also elect a new president.

Schmerelson said he’s keeping an open mind. While he favors an extensive search for outsiders, the best candidate might already work for the district. There’s only one resume feature that would automatically disqualify a candidate for Schmerelson: training from Eli Broad’s leadership academy.

Deasy began consulting for the academy after leaving LAUSD. Sponsored by Broad, a billionaire and philanthropist, the academy teaches management techniques to high-level school officials from around the country.

“They seem to come out with a philosophy of privatizing education,” Schmerelson said. “I just don’t see eye to eye with that philosophy.”

Once the new board president and members are in place, Vladovic said he expects the school board will hold a public meeting over the summer to discuss the subject. The entire school board will need to decide on a process, Vladovic said. The new board president will spearhead that search and selection process.

From start to finish, he said, the new superintendent will be selected in a public and transparent manner.

The school board sought Deasy’s resignation and Cortines’ appointment in secret, notifying the public only after it was a done deal.

On Wednesday, board member Monica Ratliff also called for transparency in finding Cortines’ successor and criticized the school board for not beginning the process sooner.

“I have been interested in beginning the process of analyzing the skills of Superintendent Cortines and beginning the search for a replacement for some time, but that has not been a board priority,” Ratliff said in a written statement.



Who will be Los Angeles Unified’s next superintendent?

By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News |

Posted: 06/24/15, 5:44 PM PDT | Updated: 6/26/15  ::  While the Los Angeles Unified school board has yet to take steps to find a replacement for Superintendent Ramon Cortines, there’s no shortage of possible candidates.

In an unexpected announcement, Cortines told board members at Tuesday’s meeting he would leave the district in six months — midway through the upcoming school year and six months before his contract is set to end.

The time frame only leaves board members next week’s meeting to talk about finding his replacement, before they recess for seven weeks over the summer.

Board member Monica Ratliff criticized the school board for not making the search a priority sooner and called for “transparency” in the process that picks Cortines’ successor.

“I admire his announcement, because it makes it very clear that the board cannot continue to put off its duty of finding his successor,” Ratliff said in a written statement.

Board President Richard Vladovic’s office did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

It took more than seven months from the time the school board started a national search for superintendent in February 2006 until it picked former Superintendent James Brewer in October of that year.

But in more recent years, the school board has decided to pick familiar faces.

Cortines, who twice before held the district’s top spot, was secretly picked to lead the school district in October. His appointment and former Superintendent John Deasy’s resignation were both sought behind closed doors and without public knowledge.

When Deasy was tapped in 2011, the school board skipped a formal vetting process. Deasy was then working as a deputy superintendent, a job he took after holding the top spot at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Prince George’s County Schools in Maryland.

Cortines’ current second-in-command, Deputy Superintendent Michelle King, volunteered to serve as interim superintendent when news of Deasy’s departure broke in October. Ruth Perez, LAUSD’s head of instruction, is another high-ranking administrator with experience. She worked as superintendent of neighboring Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District before being hired by LAUSD in August.

Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana is second-in-command of LAUSD’s after-school program. She formerly headed Pomona Unified and one of the state’s larger school systems, Santa Ana Unified in Orange County. Additionally Melendez served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education from 2009 to 2011.

Even within the school board, two members have worked as top staffers. George McKenna served as superintendent of Inglewood Unified, while Vladovic headed West Covina Unified in the San Gabriel Valley.

Outside the district and within California there may also be options. The second-in-command of California’s sixth-largest school system was looking to change jobs earlier this year. But Guadalupe Guerrero still works for San Francisco Unified after losing his bid for superintendent of Boston’s public schools.

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