By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1qREYgB
Members of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education are meeting in private on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 to evaluate Superintendent John Deasy. His annual performance review is set for Oct. 21. (2013 file photo by Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)
Posted: 09/29/14, 5:21 PM PDT | Updated: 9/30 3AM :: Los Angeles Unified School Board members will meet behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss Superintendent John Deasy’s performance amid divisive contract negotiations with the teachers union and mounting scrutiny for his oversight of technology programs.
The meeting was called by one of Deasy’s critics, board member Monica Ratliff, ahead of the annual performance review that’s set for Oct. 21. While the board doesn’t need to meet privately in advance of a routine evaluation, a similar meeting was held last year when Deasy’s review stirred speculation that his tenure would end.
Ratliff did not respond to requests for comment Monday, but a spokesman for her office confirmed that she was at least one of the board members who requested the closed-door discussion. According to a public notice, the talks will consider “appointment” and “evaluation” of the superintendent.
Deasy, who was appointed to lead the nation’s second-largest school district nearly 3½ years ago, has come under fire from United Teachers Los Angeles for his supervision of efforts to enhance technology.
The district’s new record-keeping system, MiSiS, launched at the start of this school year to a litany of problems for educators who had to work long hours because of the buggy software.
Efforts to teach students via iPads also continue to be a source of criticism for Deasy. An independent report released earlier this month revealed a lack of technical support hindered use of the devices inside classrooms. Additionally, poor inventory controls caused the district’s inspector general to report in July that $1.6 million worth of the devices were missing.
“We believe those issues and others need to be taken into consideration as the school board holds him accountable in his performance review,” United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said.
Leaders of the 35,000-member union will head back to the bargaining table Thursday with representatives of Deasy’s administration. The two sides are divided by some $280 million per year in pay.
Caputo-Pearl has said teachers deserve a 17.6 percent hike after forgoing such raises for seven years — a period in which teachers agreed to take furlough days amounting to an 8 percent pay loss and the cost of living ballooned by 20 percent.
Deasy, meanwhile, contends that such a hike would bankrupt the district, which despite a recent influx in funding still has limited resources. The district has offered a 6.64 percent pay raise over two years and a 2 percent bonus.
Last year, Deasy said he would resign, but board members ultimately decided to renew his contract through June 30, 2016.
Deasy earned $393,106 in 2013, according to tax records obtained by this news organization.
In a letter to school board members Monday, leaders of area nonprofits and the district’s 33,000-member Service Employees International Union Local 99 urged school board members to focus on improvements made under Deasy’s command.
“We are concerned that the exciting student achievement gains we have seen in recent years will be undermined by political conflicts and instability of leadership,” according to the letter that was signed by the leaders of eight organizations, including the United Way of Los Angeles, InnerCity Struggle, Community Coalition and Educators 4 Excellence.
The letter cites efforts that aim to make life and education easier for the district’s disadvantaged students, along with reading improvements made by third-graders and more advanced course offerings.
The letter also urges board members to publicly set parameters for Deasy’s evaluation, stating that “real and honest change doesn’t happen behind closed doors.”
“We call for an open forum to better understand the perspectives of board members on leadership priorities for LAUSD,” according to the letter.
It was one of two letters sent to school board members Monday in support of Deasy. The Civic Alliance, a group of organizations including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and California Endowment, warned, “we must be able to count on this board to act in good faith with our current superintendent.”
“If the Los Angeles school board acts rashly, they affirm the perception of this board and district as ungovernable,” according to the letter.
COMMENTS FROM DAILY NEWS WEBSITE:
Abstract: Los Angeles’ school politics is beginning to sound like a soap opera.
Tune in next week to see if long-suffering Superintendent John Deasy,
much admired by billionaire Eli Broad, survives yet another unjust
attack at the hands of the brutes who disapprove of the $1.3 billion
iPad fiasco, the bungled computer mess, the other snafus unjustly laid
at the feet of a man guilty only of caring too much. Forget the emails
showing possible collusion between Deasy and Apple, Deasy and Pearson.
What matters details like this when a great man is in our midst, loved
and appreciated most by those too rich to patronize the schools he
oversees. Never forget: every organization funded by Bill Gates adores
this man: think Educators 4 Excellence; think United Way of Los Angeles.
Abstract: Take Educators 4 Excellence
as an example. On their website, they tout that they began as “two
teachers” and wanted to give teachers a voice in a system that imposed
changes from the top down, and now they are growing into 10 of 1000s of
teachers in multiple states. What don’t they mention? That they are funded by The Gates Foundation, which is not really a surprise because a) Gates has been funding a lot of similar efforts and b) their “pledge” includes
evaluating teachers by value-added testing models (something Gates
really, really likes) and supporting “choice” which is reform jargon for
charter schools (something hedge fund managers really, REALLY like).
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