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John Deasy resigns; Ramon Cortines named interim head of L.A. schools

It's official: LAUSD board accepts Supt. John Deasy's resignation, appoints Ramon Cortines to fill in

The Los Angeles Unified school board on Thursday officially accepted the resignation of Supt. John Deasy and voted to appoint his predecessor, Ramon Cortines, to fill the post on an interim basis.

The board voted 6 to 1 to ratify Deasy's separation agreement, with Monica Ratliff voting no.

In a joint statement released after the vote, the school board thanked Deasy for his 3½ years of "devoted service."

"In that period of time, academic achievement rose substantially despite severe economic hardships, and the students of the district have benefited greatly from Dr. Deasy’s guidance," the statement read.

Deasy met with senior staff earlier in the morning to inform them of his plans. He then met with district legal staff to work out details of the transition. Deasy told the Los Angeles Times he could make no comment when he was reached by phone Thursday morning.

The vote to appoint Cortines was 7-0.

In an interview with The Times, Cortines said he planned to meet with senior staff on Monday "first thing."

"I’ve been asked to help them and others in the district solve the issues that confront the district at this time," he said. "Some of these issues cannot be solved overnight."

As head of the LAUSD, Deasy, 53, oversaw a continued rise in student performance during a period of financial cuts. But he could not overcome election day setbacks, poor relations with teachers and two back-to-back technology debacles.

Referring to the district's investigation into the questionable circumstances surrounding Deasy's initiative to provides iPads to students and faculty, the school board said in its statement that it "does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts."

As part of the separation agreement, Deasy will remain on paid "special assignment" with the district through the end of 2014. Under that arrangement he will receive more than 60 days' pay based on his salary of $350,000 per year. His contract, which was set to run through June 2016, requires a severance payment of only 30 days' pay.

Deasy had expressed reservations in recent weeks about his ability to remain effective in the job. But as of this week he had not said publicly that he planned to quit, and it was not clear that a majority on the school board would be willing to move against him. 

Critics have also faulted Deasy for what they call an autocratic, punitive leadership style that they say has demoralized teachers and other employees.

Cortines, 82, said he planned to listen to a wide range of stakeholders about how to address issues confronting the district, while also restoring lines of communication.

"One of the problems has been that there’s been a lack of transparency or communication between the board and the superintendent," Cortines said.

Asked how long he expected to stay on, Corintes said the subject had not been discussed.

"I don’t think there is a timeline," he said.

This is Cortines' third stint as leader of the school district. He retired as superintendent from L.A. Unified in April 2011.

For more education news, follow the reporter on Twitter:@howardblume

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

11:15 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from Mayor Eric Garcetti.

10:35 a.m.: This post has been updated with additional comment from the school board.

1:20 p.m.: This post was updated to include comments from Ramon Cortines.

This post was originally published at 10:03 a.m.

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