Striking a conciliatory tone, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl called Thursday’s resignation of Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy an opportunity for a “shift towards a more collaborative management style.”
Addressing reporters at the teachers union headquarters, Caputo-Pearl criticized the outgoing superintendent for “autocratic decisions,” which he said had consequences for students and learning.
Referring to the iPad “fiasco” and the MISIS student data system “crisis,” Caputo-Pearl said: “John Deasy championed those decisions even when consequences hit students in the face.”
The union president’s harshest criticism came in his description of Deasy’s “corporate driven model” of education, which he said “undermines equity and access.”
Deasy has been unavailable for comment since his resignation was announced. While he steps down as superintendent, he will serve on "special assignment" with the district until the end of the year.
His supporters pointed to measurable progress during his tenure.
"Dr. Deasy embraced a number of community-led efforts and policies that have resulted in tremendous gains for the district," said the Communities for Los Angeles Student Success, citing an increase in graduation rates, decrease in suspension rates for students of color, and growth in the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes.
Shane Martin, dean of the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University and a Deasy supporter, said the resignation did not come as a surprise, "but of course when it hits it becomes somewhat emotional."
"I think it’s a real tragedy for Los Angeles that such a dynamic leader will be leaving us. And I think it’s a loss for the children of LAUSD," Martin said.
Some critics urged the school board to select a more collaborative superintendent next and avoid the divisiveness that marked Deasy's three and a half years with the district.
"This issue of community input, parent input, teacher input, should be a top level priority in the incorporating of criteria for the selection of the next superintendent," said Hans Johnson, president of the East Area Progressive Democrats.
The teacher’s union president echoed that call and said he looked forward to working with Ramon Cortines, interim superintendent. Caputo-Pearl called for an open process in selecting the new superintendent, with involvement by community groups, parents, educators, youth organizations and administrators.
He said the UTLA will “make every effort” to work with the interim and new superintendent.