John E. Deasy, a former education official with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and now a deputy superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was chosen last week to take over leadership of the district when the current superintendent steps down in April.
The board of the 678,000-student district voted 6-0 to approve Mr. Deasy, with one member abstaining. His three-year contract will pay him $330,000 annually.
Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district, did not go through a formal search before choosing Mr. Deasy. His selection is not considered to be a surprise, however: Soon after the current superintendent, Ramon C. Cortines, announced in July that he would retire this spring, he vacated his larger office so Mr. Deasy could move in.
But United Teachers Los Angeles, the local teachers’ union, said the school board should have held a national search for the next superintendent. “The current closed-door decisionmaking process for selecting the education leader of the second-largest district in the country does a disservice to the students, parents, and employees,” said Joshua Pechthalt, a union representative.
Before joining the district in August, Mr. Deasy was the deputy director of education for the Seattle-based Gates Foundation. He also has served as the superintendent of the 128,000-student Prince George’s County, Md., district, and he was a graduate of the Los Angeles-based Broad Superintendents Academy, which is well known for preparing both educators and noneducators to lead urban districts. He began his career as a teacher at the high school and college level.
Mr. Deasy, 50, will be leading the Los Angeles schools through a serious financial crunch as superintendent. The district faces a $142 million deficit this year.
This district is facing profound challenges in the form of a major state economic crisis, which results in a monumental educational crisis, but I believe theres hope, Mr. Deasy said.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2011 edition of Education Week as Los Angeles Names New Superintendent