LAUSD superintendent resigns from Scholastic board

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Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortines.

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said today he is resigning from the board of directors of a major textbook publisher with millions of dollars in contracts with the school district.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the Scholastic Corporation had paid Superintendent Ramon Cortines close to $500,000 in cash and stocks in the last three years for his services on the company’s board of directors.

In a statement, Cortines said he’ll resign from the Scholastic board to end what observers might consider a conflict of interest.

He’d said he abstained from major decisions about Scholastic. The current L.A. Unified board backed Cortines. But a former board member said the arrangement affected the district’s purchasing oversight and a lobbyist said Scholastic enjoyed an unfair business advantage because of Cortines’s seat on its board.

In an editorial this week, Business Week magazine suggested that the ethics violations were simple and urged the board of education to pressure Cortines to sever his ties. A federal filing last year revealed that Cortines owns more than 4,000 shares of Scholastic Corporation stock. An L.A. Unified spokesman said he didn’t know what the superintendent plans to do with that stock.

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