Nonprofit official named to LAUSD's No. 2 post

File photo of John E. Deasy.
File photo of John E. Deasy.

The Los Angeles Board of Education has appointed a top official with the country's leading school reform foundation as the No. 2 leader of the nation's second-largest school district.

The board voted Tuesday to name John Deasy, deputy director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as deputy superintendent.

Deasy currently oversees the $200 million educational grant program for the Gates Foundation, the nation's biggest player in the school reform movement.

The action fills a post that has been vacant since the previous deputy superintendent, Ramon Cortines, was appointed superintendent two years ago. The appointment also creates a possible successor to the 77-year-old Cortines, who has 18 months left on his contract.

The deputy director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and former superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was hired today as deputy superintendent of the LAUSD. He will join the Los Angeles Unified School District Aug. 1.

"Dr. Deasy's vast experience in education includes having served as superintendent of schools for three school districts which will have a profound effect on the daily operations of LAUSD,'' Superintendent Ramon Cortines said. "I have every confidence that Dr. Deasy will help this district move forward and maintain our mission of quality education for all despite the current economic climate and challenges facing the LAUSD.''

Deasy will report directly to Cortines on the development of operational procedures for the district and recommend procedures for the allocation of staff. He will also oversee educational activities of the district's schools and centers.

During his time with the Santa Monica-Malibu district, Deasy earned praise from some parent leaders who lauded him for forcing curriculum changes that partially eliminated an achievement gap between bright students and average performers.

In a 2006 interview with a local paper, the then-president of the Malibu High Parent Teacher Student Association, Heather Anderson, called Deasy "an excellent superintendent. He really made the district examine itself in a critical way.''

Deasy left the district to become superintendent of Prince George's County Schools in Maryland. He left that job in 2008 to join the Gates Foundation.

He was briefly investigated in 2008 in response to reports in the Louisville Courier-Journal that Deasy received his doctorate after attending just one semester at the University of Louisville. But a university committee conducted a seven-month probe and ruled that Deasy had completed enough work at other schools and independently to allow the doctorate to stand, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Deasy achieved nationwide renown in academic circles for his track record on boosting performance at low-performing campuses.

During his tenure at the 14,000-student district split between Santa Monica and Malibu, Deasy implemented programs to even out the disparity between high-achieving children from wealthy families, and kids from poor households who were struggling.

Deasy was credited with raising test scores at Santa Monica High and its feeder schools. But some Malibu parents bristled at a policy he championed to require that 15 percent of the money raised by wealthy Malibu parents be spread to some of the poorer schools in the district.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
KPCC wire services contributed to this report.