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LA school board approves $300K contract for Cortines


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines attends his first school board meeting Tuesday after stepping in for John Deasy, who resigned.

The Los Angeles Unified school board unanimously approved its third contract with new Superintendent Ramon Cortines Tuesday morning. 

On Monday, Cortines, 82, returned to head the district again, replacing John Deasy, who stepped down last week. 

In an interview with KPCC's Take Two, Cortines vowed to move away from what Deasy's critics called his autocratic leadership style. 

"Decentralization of the district," Cortines said. "I've met with the leadership team, challenged them, let them know what I expect."

The board offered Cortines $350,000, but Cortines negotiated down to $300,000 without medical coverage. The district already pays for a long-term care policy for Cortines under a previous employment agreement. 

The contract extends through June 30, 2015, but the agreement can be canceled with 30 days' notice at any time. 


New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser

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David McNew/Getty Images

File: Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortines.

New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans for the school district’s most pressing problems won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy.

“Dr. Deasy did many things well, but I will not be using his services,” Cortines said in an interview with KPCC’s Take Two on Monday.

Last week, L.A. Unified’s school board announced Deasy had resigned as superintendent but would remain with the district as a paid adviser for $60,000, based on his previous salary, through the end of this calendar year.

Cortines ranked fixing the MISIS student tracking and class scheduling system as his top priority, but cautioned that it may take as long as a year to correct the problems.

Cortines and Deasy had previously worked together. When Cortines served as district superintendent from January 2009 to April 2011, Deasy was brought in as his deputy and was positioned to take over after Cortines, which he did in 2011.


Deasy blames LA school district politics for blocking 'reforms'

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy

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File: Former L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy talks to reporters at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles in February 2012.

The day after John Deasy announced he was stepping down as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, he declared politics thwarted "student-centered" education reforms nationwide. 

"It does concern me," Deasy told NPR's Morning Edition Friday. "I think there's always the delicate balance of how slow you're willing to go, and then you have to square that with looking youth in the eye and say, 'Well, it's not your turn this year,' and that's difficult to do."

Deasy's supporters have long painted the Los Angeles Unified's divided board as dysfunctional.

The board is ideologically split: on one side, members are elected with the help of the teachers union, which pushes for lower class sizes and decries the emphasis on testing. On the other are those backed by self-described education reformers, who advocate test-score-based accountability, charter school expansion and changes to teacher tenure. 


After LA schools resignation, Deasy talks about what he's considering next

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California, February 6, 2012.

Former Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy spoke out Friday morning on where he might be headed next, saying he's considering jobs in youth corrections or superintendent development and even political office. 

After a day of silence, Deasy gave an early interview Friday to NPR's Steve Inskeep. He later joined a press call hosted by Students Matter, the group behind the recent Vergara lawsuit where a judge ruled that the laws behind teacher tenure were unconstitutional. He revealed details of his possible next steps during the Students Matter call following a question from KPCC.

"I'm not going to speak about them specifically but I would give you the general topics. One would be youth corrections," he said. "Another would be working and supporting the development of superintendents, and the third would be a consideration for political office." (Click above to listen to audio from the call.)


Cortines faces challenging tasks as he steps in behind departing superintendent

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David McNew/Getty Images

File: Then L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines attends a school meeting in April 2009.

Educator Ramon Cortines takes over as Los Angeles Unified superintendent with experience that positions him well as head of a large school district, but with a long task list and a history that has some questioning his selection.

Cortines, 82, starts Monday when Superintendent John Deasy steps down and assumes the role of a district advisor on special assignment through December.

Beset by critics, some on the school board that employs him, and facing mounting problems that painted his administration as dysfunctional, Deasy negotiated a separation agreement to retreat from the job he held for three and a half years.

Following behind a superintendent leaving in the midst of controversy won't be new for Cortines. Each of the previous two times Cortines has taken on L.A. Unified’s top job, it’s been after the contentious ouster of a superintendent.