New leader for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s schools

<i>This post has been corrected, as noted below.</i>

One of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s closest advisors will become the new leader of the nonprofit overseeing public schools under the mayor’s control.

Joan Sullivan, 39, will take the helm next month of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which manages 15 campuses on behalf of Villaraigosa. Sullivan had been serving as his deputy mayor for education, and, in that role, she’d also been on the board of the organization.

Villaraigosa’s impending departure had created uncertainty about the future of the Partnership effort. But the main outside donor, Melanie Lundquist, remains committed, and incoming Mayor Eric Garcetti said he wants to do his part to keep the initiative going.


With the help of Villaraigosa’s bully pulpit, the Partnership had, under Marshall Tuck, taken on some of the lowest-performing Los Angeles schools, attracted outside resources to them and took part in key and sometimes controversial initiatives.

Partnership schools were hit hard by layoffs, and Tuck’s team responded by helping organize litigation to protect school faculties. A subsequent settlement altered the seniority rules that govern layoffs in L.A. Unified, although that settlement remains under legal challenge.

Tuck formerly headed Green Dot Public Schools, an independent charter organization that is one of the few operating with a teachers union contract. Tuck said his departure is voluntary and that he will help with the transition.

Sullivan previously spent more than a decade in the South Bronx as the founding principal of a public secondary school and as a high school social studies teacher. Sullivan also worked on Bill Bradley’s unsuccessful 2000 presidential campaign, documenting her experiences in a memoir titled “An American Voter,” published in 2002.

Before that, she worked for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a New York City agency charged with investigating police misconduct.

Sullivan is a graduate of the Broad Fellowship for Education Leadership, holds a master’s degree in school leadership and graduated with a bachelor’s in American studies from Yale.


[For the record, 11:42 a.m. PDT June 7: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the New York school founded by Sullivan as a charter school.]

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