The Los Angeles Board of Education is reconvening in closed session Friday at noon as anticipation mounts about the choice of the next leader of the nation’s second-largest school system. The presumed front-runner is former investment banker and philanthropist Austin Beutner, but interim Supt. Vivian Ekchian and former Baltimore Supt. Andres Alonso also are in the running.
Most district insiders appear to be rooting for Ekchian, who has spent her entire career in education within the school system. After her 10 years as a teacher, her roles have included head of human resources, chief labor negotiator and regional administrator for campuses in the west San Fernando Valley. She’s managed the district since September, when then-Supt. Michelle King went on medical leave and chose Ekchian to fill in for her. King, who is battling cancer, never returned and announced her retirement in January.
Numerous influential civic leaders have urged — and pressured — the board to select Beutner. Also lending their weight have been advocates for charter schools, which are independently operated, growing in number and competing for students with district-operated campuses. Four of the seven board members — enough to control the outcome — were elected with major financial support from charter supporters.
Students are taking to the streets again Friday to protest gun violence on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.
Starting at 10 a.m., students at many schools will spend 13 seconds honoring the 13 people — 12 students and one teacher — killed on that day in Littleton, Colo. After that, they’ll participate in a host of different activities.
Within L.A. Unified, one school is having an open-mic event for students to talk about school violence, and lawmakers are visiting campuses to hear students thoughts.