Advertisement

L.A. Unified veteran returns as interim inspector general

L.A. Unified veteran returns as interim inspector general
Jess Womack is returning for a third stint as the inspector general for L.A. Unified. (Erik Skindrud / Hospital Assn. of Southern California)

A retired district lawyer and administrator will return to serve as the Los Angeles Unified School District’s inspector general after the board failed to renew his predecessor’s contract.

Jess Womack previously served as inspector general for 18 months at the nation’s second-largest school system, bridging the gap between longer-term appointments.

Advertisement

This time he’s replacing Ken Bramlett, who served for five years as L.A. Unified’s chief internal watchdog and whose contract expired. The board deadlocked 3 to 3 in June over rehiring him; the seventh board member, Ref Rodriguez, did not vote because he is under investigation by the inspector general’s office.

After a long legal career in private industry, Womack began working as a lawyer for L.A. Unified in 2002. He was named inspector general in 2011.

The board vote this week to bring Womack back was 6 to 0. Board member Kelly Gonez, who is on maternity leave, did not vote. Womack will be paid $14,995 per month on a contract that runs through December.

The board debate over Bramlett took place almost entirely out of public view, in closed session, but some board members and other sources have described what took place. Three board members had praised Bramlett’s work, while three others questioned his performance or raised concerns about whether Bramlett had allowed his top deputy, Frank Cabibi, to make inappropriate comments about women and minorities. Cabibi agreed to resign earlier this year without admitting any wrongdoing.

The board members who were critical of Bramlett, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing, are members of a majority, including Rodriguez, elected with financial support from backers of charter schools. Charters are authorized by L.A. Unified, but independently managed and exempt from some rules that apply to schools run by the district. Charter leaders have sought to limit the role of the inspector general in investigating those schools.

Womack has defended the importance of having an inspector general when, in the past, district leaders or others sought to eliminate it.

Advertisement
Advertisement