Friday, October 25, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News and Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News | 

10/24/13, 6:52 PM PDT | Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy has told some members of the school board that he plans to resign as head of the nation’s second-largest school district, a source close to the board said late Thursday.

Contacted at home Thursday night, Deasy refused to confirm or deny the report.

“I have not submitted a letter of resignation,” Deasy said, refusing to comment further.

Under Deasy’s $330,000-a-year contract, he can resign or be terminated with just 30 days’ notice.

Deasy’s contract was up for renewal in November, and the district source said it was widely expected that the superintendent would be retained for another year, despite well-publicized problems with the rollout of the $1 billion iPad program and growing resistance from the board over pursuing some of his key reforms.

Deasy apparently did not speak with all board members directly on Thursday.

“I’m shocked,” said Monica Ratliff, the newest member of the board, who said she had not heard the news from Deasy himself.

Board member Steve Zimmer said he had not spoken with Deasy and had no direct knowledge of the superintendent’s desire to leave the district. He also said he didn’t always agree with Deasy but remained confident in his ability to lead the district.

Other board members declined to comment or could not be reached.

Deasy had the support of a board majority during much of his tenure as superintendent. That changed this spring, when one of his most outspoken advocates left the board and was replaced by Ratliff, who has said she supports Deasy but has raised questions about many of his policies.

Deasy also clashed philosophically with board member Richard Vladovic, the South Bay representative who was elected president in July. Deasy reportedly threatened at the time to quit if Vladovic was chosen to head the board but didn’t follow through at the time.

The two men have said publicly they have been trying to mend their relationship, even meeting earlier this month with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Deasy and Vladovic had also been meeting regularly at a coffee shop near Vladovic’s home in San Pedro to discuss district business. During an early morning event on Thursday in Woodland Hills, Deasy said his next stop was a meeting with Vladovic.

But the board’s new direction has also affected other high-ranking officials. Deasy’s number two, deputy superintendent for instruction Jaime Aquino, announced last month that he is resigning his $250,000 a year job because of interference from the school board.

The loss of the district’s top two instructional leaders raises immediate questions about how LAUSD will move forward with new state tests and a new formula for distributing state funding.

The board bases Deasy’s annual review on a “performance meter” that gauges his progress in reforming the troubled district, with goals for graduation, academic proficiency, attendance, parental engagement and school safety. Under Deasy’s leadership, test scores and graduation rates had steadily risen, while student suspensions have dropped.

Deasy also has ushered in a college-prep curriculum for all students and has been pushing ahead with plans to get LAUSD students prepared for the new Common Core curriculum taking effect in 2015.

However, he also has drawn the ire of United Teachers Los Angeles, whose members rebuked him last year with a “no-confidence vote.” In July, the union gave Deasy failing marks in its first ever “performance evaluation” of a schools chief, with the lowest scores for staff morale and smart spending.

“It is no secret that UTLA has had major concerns with John Deasy’s leadership,” UTLA President Warren Fletcher said in a statement issued late Thursday. “Nonetheless, the future of LAUSD is not about one man. “The challenge going forward is to make sure students and schools get the resources they so badly need after five punishing years of recession. UTLA believes new leadership at LAUSD holds the potential to make that happen,” Fletcher said.

Deasy joined the district when he was hired as a deputy superintendent in June 2010, when he was seen as the heir apparent to then-superintendent Ramon Cortines. Previously he had been working as deputy director of education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to that he was superintendent in districts that included Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, and Coventry Public Schools in Rhode Island.

The LAUSD board then hired him on a 6-0 vote as superintendent in January 2011 after the 78-year-old Cortines announced his retirement.

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