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Lesson of Deasy's tenure: L.A. schools, not donors or foundations, come first

To the editor: According to the article, former Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy, "who was paid $350,000 a year as superintendent, took more than 100 trips, spent generously on meals as he lobbied state and national lawmakers and wooed unions, foundations and educational leaders, according to credit card receipts, calendars and emails obtained under the California Public Records Act." ("After John Deasy, LAUSD faces a tough choice: Play it safe or take another risk?," Sept. 5)

While there is no doubt knowledge to be gained from taking more than 100 trips, I can't help but think that the rollouts of both the ill-fated Apple iPad program and the still-buggy scheduling system would have gone more smoothly with a more hands-on approach. Also, teachers are right to question the propriety of expense-account-funded dinners at pricey restaurants when we're reaching into our own pockets for classroom materials.

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District students, parents, site staff and teachers deserve a genuine public servant as superintendent who puts Los Angeles schools first. If that means having the strength and professional integrity to risk saying no to billionaire donors and foundation money, then that's a risk worth taking.

Brandon Abraham, Los Angeles

The writer is an LAUSD teacher.

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To the editor: Among the lessons we've learned from Deasy's tenure is that there is no substitute for having a leader who was a working administrator with multiple experiences in schools in large, urban environments with great diversity, including affluence and poverty, different languages and high- and low-performance schools.

We need a leader who has learned to substitute humility for arrogance, can listen to others and has the wherewithal to simultaneously accommodate the needs of the district while sustaining pressure from influential external forces.

This person must realize that because charter schools educate so many of our city's kids, they're not the enemy; neither is the union that protects the rights and interests of teachers, our most important resource.

Is all this a tough challenge for a superintendent? You bet. Now, let the search begin.

Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica

The writer served as a teacher, principal and administrator at LAUSD.

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