Book supplier paid LAUSD chief $150K last year

Ethics watchdogs say they’re troubled that Los Angeles Unified’s superintendent is supplementing his salary with money paid by a large company that sells reading material and services to the school district.

L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines sits on the board of directors of the New York City-based Scholastic Corporation. The Los Angeles Times reports that federal filings disclosed Cortines earned $151,000 last year from the company, and roughly the same amount the previous two years.

A filing from five months ago indicates that he owns about $100,000 worth of stock in the company. The school district pays him a $250,000 salary.

Scholastic has $16 million in contracts to provide L.A. Unified with reading material. Cortines said he abstains from any school district decisions having to do with the company. Former school board member Jeff Horton told the L.A. Times that the arrangement puts the district at a disadvantage as it attempts to turn around low reading scores. Other district observers said it gives the company an unfair advantage in its dealings with L.A. Unified.

Cortines became a director at Scholastic Corp. before the school board tapped him to lead the district. Current board members told the newspaper they have no problem with his ties to the company, and a former board member said no one vetted his outside employment in the rush to make him superintendent.

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