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San Francisco Supt. Carranza withdraws from consideration to head L.A. schools

San Francisco schools Supt. Richard Carranza, a leading candidate to head the Los Angeles Unified School District, has pulled out of consideration, according to a spokeswoman for the Bay Area district.

Carranza said he wanted to focus on unfinished efforts in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which was the first to report his decision Monday.

“I think Los Angeles is an incredibly important school district in the state of California,” Carranza told the newspaper. “They’ve got a lot of good things happening” there. But, he added, “I’m just really happy with the work we’re doing in San Francisco.”

Carranza, in his fourth year as superintendent, said that he hoped to provide long-term stability for the district’s academic efforts, including enhanced teacher training for the state’s new learning goals.

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Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school system, is seeking a replacement for Ramon C. Cortines, who retired last month. His second-in-command, Michelle King, is serving as acting superintendent. She also is a candidate for the permanent job.

deliberations over a new schools chief Tuesday morning. The board had hoped to complete the search process by the end of December, especially because Cortines retired from day-to-day management of the district Dec. 11.

School board President Steve Zimmer declined to say Monday whether Carranza was a finalist for the job in Los Angeles, but his name had emerged as one of a handful of likely finalists.

“I consider myself someone who admires Supt. Carranza both personally and professionally, and the work that he is engaged with in San Francisco is important work,” Zimmer said. “I am encouraged that he will be continuing to work on behalf of kids and equity in San Francisco.”

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Carranza took himself out of the running in a letter to the executive search firm that is assisting L.A. Unified, said Gentle Blythe, a spokeswoman for San Francisco Unified.

Other individuals thought to be candidates or those who have been recruited have included Miami Supt. Alberto Carvalho, St. Louis Supt. Kelvin Adams and Fremont Unified Supt. Jim Morris.

Carranza had qualities that some said would make him a natural finalist: He is Latino, as are 74% of district students, and, like most of them, he was born to working-class parents. The 49-year-old administrator grew up in Tucson and became a teacher and principal at the high school from which he graduated. He worked as a mariachi player to pay off student loans.

Although Carranza has no background in L.A. Unified — and local experience matters to some school board members — he does have extensive experience in California and with urban school systems with low-income populations.

Before taking a senior post in San Francisco, Carranza served as a regional administrator with the fast-growing Las Vegas school system.

Carranza has led San Francisco Unified since 2012, where his focus has included expanding technology and reducing suspensions, two issues of importance in Los Angeles.

San Francisco’s district is less than one-10th the size of L.A. Unified; about 60% of its students are from low-income families — a substantial percentage, but lower than in Los Angeles. Carranza recently signed a three-year extension, starting at $315,000 a year.

Emily Murase, the San Francisco school board president, praised Carranza’s decision to remain, according to the Chronicle.

“We recognize he is one of the top superintendents in the country and we also recognize that he gets recruiting calls regularly,” Murase said. “There’s a lot of work to be done and we make a great team, so we’re just happy we can continue with the leadership in the district.”

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

7:34 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information

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