Wednesday, March 23, 2016


from City News Service

03-22-2016 3:56 PM | LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Board of Supervisors appointed Debra Duardo today as superintendent of schools for the county Office of Education.

   Duardo works for the Los Angeles Unified School District as the
executive director of Student Health and Human Services, managing a $200
million budget and more than 1,800 employees.

LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King offered her congratulations.

   ``For nearly 20 years, Dr. Duardo has been a strong advocate for L.A.
Unified students and families, especially those facing intense academic, social
and emotional barriers,'' King said. ``Thanks to her innovative leadership and
passionate belief in public education, countless numbers of L.A. Unified
students have stayed in, or returned to school and earned their diploma.''

   The board unofficially selected Duardo on a unanimous vote last Tuesday
during a closed-door session. She is expected to come on board May 15 at an
annual salary of $267,788, subject to the approval of the Board of Education.

Duardo has held positions as LAUSD's director of Pupil Services and of
Dropout Prevention and Recovery.

   She has a personal understanding of the issues facing at-risk youth
because she dropped out of high school at 15 to take a job at Kentucky Fried
Chicken and was the teenage mother of a baby boy.

   When she learned that her son had a birth defect that would leave him a
quadriplegic, Duardo realized she needed an education to help care for him, she
told an interviewer at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs in 2013.

   After graduating with a bachelor's degree in social welfare from Luskin
and a stint as an administrator, Duardo was hired as assistant principal of Le
Conte Middle School, where she was once a student. She went on to earn her
doctorate at UCLA.

   As the superintendent for LACOE, Duardo will be responsible for running
schools for juvenile offenders and other at-risk youth, like pregnant teens and
truant students, and special education programs for other school districts.

   The Los Angeles County Office of Education also oversees the county's
High School for the Arts and International Polytechnic High School.

   County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said Duardo would continue
important work begun by Arturo Delgado, the outgoing superintendent.

   ``Dr. Duardo is an expert administrator with years of experience in
trauma-informed education systems,'' Ridley-Thomas said. ``She will bring her
outstanding leadership on dropout prevention strategies, restorative justice
and special needs education -- and she will put students first.''

   Ridley-Thomas said both Duardo's and King's appointments should be

   ``It is unprecedented, and remarkable, that the two largest education
agencies in Los Angeles are headed by Los Angeles natives and women of color
who came through the very same systems that they now govern,'' Ridley-Thomas
said. ``I can think of no better role models for our students.'

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