School & District Management

Los Angeles Leaders Exert Pressure to Keep Superintendent Deasy

By Lesli A. Maxwell — October 29, 2013 2 min read
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With the possible exit of John Deasy from the helm of the Los Angeles Unified school district looming, a number of civic and foundation leaders in and around the city are mounting a public relations campaign to keep the hard-charging superintendent in place at a delicate time for the nation’s largest school district.

As is widely known by now, Supt. Deasy is reportedly on the verge of announcing that he will step down within a few months. He’s only been superintendent since 2011, but in that short amount of time, he’s pushed a number of ambitious and controversial initiatives, including, most recently, a $1 billion investment in Apple iPads that seeks to marry students’ access to technology with the district’s rollout of the common-core standards.

Deasy, who in just seven years, has been the superintendent in Prince George’s County, Md., an executive at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the deputy superintendent in L.A. Unified before being elevated to the top job, has also been one of the more prominent voices for the group of California districts that sought, and won, a one-of-a-kind waiver earlier this year from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Over the last few days, Deasy has only said he has not submitted a resignation letter and that he’ll wait until after he receives his performance review from the school board to talk about his future in the district. That review is set for today.

In the meantime, though, a number of civic and philanthropic leaders are writing letters to the school board, urging them to keep the superintendent for the good of the 650,000 children in the city’s schools.

The closing line from a letter signed by 19 individuals, including the publisher of La Opinión, the city’s largest Spanish-language daily, and the president of the California Endowment: “Firing Superintendent Deasy, or making his life so miserable that he has no choice but to leave, is not in the best interests of the students of Los Angeles. We urge you to pull the board together and make every effort to retain one of the top Superintendents (sic) in the country.”

Should Deasy leave, Los Angeles would lose its top two administrators back to back. Jaime Aquino, the district’s chief academic officer, will leave at the end of year. He announced his departure last month, complaining that the school board had gotten in the way of his efforts to raise student achievement.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.