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California voters have seen a barrage of sunny television ads in recent weeks touting former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s record on finances, crime and education, aired by Families & Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor 2018.

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Austin Beutner, center
Austin Beutner, center (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Southern California:

Newly appointed L.A. Unified Supt. Austin Beutner spoke to The Times’ education team.

Embattled L.A. Unified school board member Ref Rodriguez has resigned from California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

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Al Seib / Los Angeles Times
Al Seib / Los Angeles Times (Incoming L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner talks to students at Belmont High School.)

Austin Beutner, who officially starts Tuesday as the new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, is taking on a famously difficult job at a particularly difficult time. The school board is divided and did not back him unanimously. The nation’s second-largest school district has deep-seated problems, including declining enrollment, lagging academic achievement and rising pension and healthcare costs that eat away at its budget.

The 58-year-old former investment banker and former L.A. Times publisher has years of experience in the financial world but none as an educator. Earlier this week, he sat down with the Times education team to discuss the challenges facing the district, which has about 60,000 employees and 500,000 students in traditional public schools. He did not talk about his plans — saying repeatedly, “stay tuned” — but he spoke in broad terms about his mindset in approaching the tough decisions ahead.

It’s the third day of a three-day strike, and UC Merced custodian Bertha Perez is taking a break from a picket line at the university’s unremarkable entrance, an intersection with stop lights.

One person has been detained after a report of an armed man at a Palmdale high school sparked a massive law enforcement response Friday morning.

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  • LAUSD
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Ref Rodriguez appears during a court appearance.
Ref Rodriguez appears during a court appearance. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles school board member Ref Rodriguez has resigned from the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which oversees the integrity and quality of California’s teachers.

Rodriguez faces felony and misdemeanor charges for political money laundering. Separately, his former employer, a charter school organization, has accused him of improperly authorizing checks to a nonprofit under his control.

Rodriguez has denied wrongdoing.

L.A. campus aide Nancy Ramirez-Chavez, left, joins other school workers in a February demonstration.
L.A. campus aide Nancy Ramirez-Chavez, left, joins other school workers in a February demonstration. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Southern California:

L.A. Unified just averted a one-day strike by reaching an agreement with a labor union. Take a look at the deal that was made and the challenges ahead.

A judge dismisses an Orange County school board member’s request for a restraining order against a blogger.

An Orange County Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a school board member's petition for a permanent restraining order against a Huntington Beach blogger.

Attorney Jeffrey W. Shields filed the petition on behalf of Ocean View School District trustee Gina Clayton-Tarvin, 46, who alleged in court documents that Charles Keeler Johnson, 56, has threatened her on social media and at school board meetings, causing her to "fear for my own safety and for that of my immediate family members."

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Nonteaching L.A. school district employees, including these who took part in a February protest, can now celebrate a new contract.
Nonteaching L.A. school district employees, including these who took part in a February protest, can now celebrate a new contract. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Southern California:

L.A. Unified reached a tentative deal with a workers union to avert a planned one-day strike that could have shut down schools.

Meet the workers who are striking at UCLA this week.

Los Angeles school district and union officials announced a contract agreement Tuesday night that averted a one-day strike planned for next week.