LAUSD Supt. John Deasy expected to resign

LAUSD Supt. John Deasy at a board meeting in August.
LAUSD Supt. John Deasy at a board meeting in August.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Beleaguered L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy is expected to step down after reaching a settlement with the school board, several sources familiar with the negotiations said late Wednesday.

The L.A. Unified school board could name an interim superintendent as early as 10 a.m. Thursday, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it involved a personnel matter and confidential negotiations.

One source said the board was likely to select former Supt. Ramon Cortines to run the district on an interim basis.


As part of the departure agreement, Deasy is expected to receive about 60 days’ pay, or roughly $60,000, the sources said. His contract, which was to run through June 2016, requires a severance payment of only 30 days.

During his 31/2 years at the helm, 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.

His supporters credited him for gains in test scores, graduation rates and improved results for students learning English. They also applauded his push for more rigorous evaluations of teachers and principals, for reducing the number of student suspensions and for providing breakfast to students in the classroom.

But Deasy has faced strong criticism over the troubled rollout of a $1.3-billion effort to provide iPads to every student, teacher and campus administrator. Amid growing questions about how the iPad program was run, Deasy announced in August that he was suspending new purchases under the iPad contract.

Another technology project, a new student records system, malfunctioned this fall.

The problems prevented hundreds of students at Jefferson High School from getting the classes they needed and created problems across the school system.

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


Still, Deasy has enjoyed strong support from key civic and business leaders, who have urged the Board of Education in recent weeks to retain him.

But the superintendent has not fared as well with the board, which has a majority of members who won their seats despite efforts by Deasy’s allies to defeat them. Board members also complain that Deasy pays little heed to their input.

His contract, which pays $350,000 a year, was revised last year and dropped previous goals related to student achievement because test scores are not yet available from new state exams.

He was also expected to increase revenue and enrollment. District revenues have gone up sharply, but that was the result of an improved statewide funding program. Enrollment has trended downward in recent years.

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 even this week, it was not clear that a majority on the school board would be willing to move against him.

Deasy cut short a trip to South Korea to make the final arrangements for his departure, according to district sources. He did not return calls for comment Wednesday night.


The board voted to offer Deasy the settlement at its Tuesday meeting but didn’t report the action because there was no agreement with him at that time, the sources said.

The board vote in favor of the settlement is expected to be released Thursday.

At a closed meeting Tuesday, the board also apparently selected an interim superintendent, but that decision did not take effect until Deasy agreed to step down.

The board also did not report that action Tuesday.

If Cortines takes the interim job, it would be his third stint as district leader. He retired as superintendent from L.A. Unified in April 2011.

He has a long career as a respected educator, but his exit was marred by a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a current district employee. A proposed settlement of that litigation later fell apart.

Cortines, 82, lives in the Pasadena area.
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