Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1VSXjKT
Unified teacher Elgin Scott holds a likeness of former superintendent John Deasy at a teachers union rally protesting what they say is the influence of billionaire Eli Broad in the school district's superintendent search. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC
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14 October 2015 :: The Los Angeles Unified school board on Tuesday voted against allowing the finalists for the district superintendent post to attend public forums.
In a 4 to 3 vote, the board rejected a motion by member Monica Ratliff calling for the finalists to be introduced at the events where the public could have a chance to interact with the candidates.
But the board heard from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the firm that is helping members search for the next leader of the second largest school district in the country.
“There are pros and cons to a public interview of the finalists,” said Hank Gmitro, the firm's president.
He said a confidential search would likely lead to a stronger candidate pool. The advantage of a public process that reveals the names is that it lets the public connect with the candidates, he said.
One of the newest members of the school board, charter school administrator Ref Rodriguez, backed a confidential search.
“We are interested in the most qualified candidate that will achieve the ambitious goals that we have for all kids graduating from this district: zero dropouts, A through G for all, reading by nine,” he said, referring to the A to G courses that help get students college-ready.
The public can still voice their opinions about the kind of superintendent they want at forums to begin next week (see schedule below). The school board also agreed to pick civic leaders to take part in focus group meetings that the district would schedule.
The school board has yet to tell its search firm how many finalist names it wants or its deadline to hand over those names.
Outside the school board meeting, several dozen LAUSD teachers, and leaders of their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, marched on the sidewalk, chanted, and staged some street theater to protest what they contend is philanthropist Eli Broad's effort to influence the superintendent search process.
"Parents have insights, students have insights, educators, and employees have insights in what we need to lead this school district. So absolutely this should be a transparent process where the public should be engaged," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl.
Teachers are upset about a recently unveiled draft proposal circulated by the Broad Foundation that calls for 130,000 additional charter school seats over eight years. They're also upset that a coalition of 50 L.A. civic groups, many of them funded by the Broad Foundation, are seeking an active part in the superintendent search process.
"I would like to see a superintendent that was a teacher for a significant amount of time," said fourth-grade teacher Elgin Scott. "I would like to see a superintendent that is innately connected, philosophically, educationally with teaching rather than a mayor, a governor, or some head of industry. I want a teacher up there."
The school board did not address the group's proposal at its Tuesday's meeting.
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