To the editor: Jim Newton commends Supt. John Deasy for the reduction in suspensions over the last two years in the Los Angeles Unified School District, that success being cited as a reason for his retention. (“Deasy’s impatience threatens to overshadow LAUSD achievements,” Column, Sept. 28)
The lower number of suspensions is often referenced in Times reports, but this statistic is not newsworthy. The number has dropped simply because school administrators cannot suspend a student as in the past.
Special education students cannot receive lengthy suspensions by law, and the “promised” special behavior counselors on each campus have not materialized. Thus, unruly, disruptive and belligerent students are housed on school grounds for a short time (if that) and sent back to class.
An undisciplined school climate has been nurtured by Deasy’s current policy. This is sad and dangerous.
Jerie Morrison, Mar Vista
To the editor: Newton reminds us that the new Board of Education may trade complacency for urgency, leaving behind the dreams of the hundreds of thousands of children and the hopes for a better Los Angeles.
Deasy is up against the “return of the machine.” Unfortunately, most eligible voters have chosen not to vote, providing comfort and stability to this machine.
Deasy has made mistakes for sure, as have many strong leaders throughout history. His biggest mistake is in assuming this city wants more, not less, from its public schools. He may not have the best manners, he may be too aggressive and quick, but since when did good-mannered wallflowers ever change the course of human events?
The truth is, there are no saints or superheroes in school reform, but there are plenty of villains. And they run the machine.
Maria Casillas, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: Deasy states, “My purpose in this job is to lift children out of poverty.”
Memo to Deasy: The people doing the heavy lifting are the teachers.
A majority of teachers in the LAUSD have a negative opinion of the job the superintendent is doing. Perhaps empowering and respecting teachers more might help him reach his goal.
Peter Connolly, South Pasadena
To the editor: Newton’s column is astute, observing Deasy looking “drawn” and though “already slight, he’s lost weight.” Attending the annual Associated Administrators of Los Angeles’ fall reception last month, I observed in Deasy the “lean and hungry look” of Cassius in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” walking passed administrators and guest retirees with cursory cordiality.
Newton quoted Deasy as saying, “My purpose in this job is to lift children out of poverty.” Do employees also share this goal? Unfortunately, Deasy seems to be inattentive to their zeal and has leaped into a frightening free fall, untroubled with concerns about himself.
Unless Deasy is goaded and guided by the school board toward self-awareness, he will crash and burn unceremoniously.
In summary, Dr. John Deasy might read Father Ken Deasy’s book, “Get Off the Cross — Someone Else Needs the Wood.” Getting off and lifting employees compassionately could be a purposeful start.
Tom Kaminski, Pasadena
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