Hundreds of parents, teachers and activists rallied Tuesday morning in support of L.A. schools chief John Deasy ahead of his meeting with the Board of Education to discuss his performance and his future with the district.
Last week, just days before the scheduled performance review, Deasy told some top officials that he may step down, according to L.A. Unified School District insiders.
Supporters lined up for hours before the closed-door meeting, which is to be conducted by the seven-member body that has become more willing to challenge his policy efforts and philosophy.
Supporters shouted “Don’t be crazy, keep John Deasy!” and marched on the sidewalk in front of district headquarters on Beaudry Avenue.
Speaking at a lectern at the doors of the boardroom, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president of the South Los Angeles nonprofit Community Coalition, said the resistance Deasy has faced within the district is not about individual disagreements, but a resistance to change.
He praised Deasy for the sustained rise in the district's test scores, graduation rates, and for lowering suspensions and expulsions.
“We are for change – that means some people have to change what they’re doing,” he said.
Max Hoversten, 18, from Whittier College and a member of Students for Education Reform, said Deasy's resignation would be devastating to the district.
“It would be disastrous. It would be a real shame to see them take down someone who really cares about students.”
Erika Perez, 21, who attends East Los Angeles College, wore her graduation gown from Roosevelt High School and held a sign that read “Students before politics.” Perez, also a member of Students for Education Reform, said she is worried that communities like hers would suffer if Deasy leaves and that the momentum the district has gained under his watch would be wasted.
“Whether he leaves or not, he’s done a great job,” she said. “We want to make sure it stays the way it is.”
Tom Adams, a teacher at Sylmar High School, said Deasy has the best interests of students – and teachers – in mind. Adams said the district has suffered from a lack of consistent, positive leadership.
“Dr. Deasy has really one focus -- the benefit of education for our students,” he said. “Please – stay with us.”
Deasy has come under heavy scrutiny from the teachers union, which has said he put an unreasonable focus on test scores, among other things, to the detriment of the rank-and-file instructors.