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LA school board approves $300K contract for Cortines



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

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. 

Like Deasy, Cortines will be provided a car and driver. He also is granted discretion to bring on his own leadership team.

“I’m hoping you will listen a little better than was done before,” Scott Folsom, a representative from the PTA, told Cortines and the school board after the vote.

Not everyone is pleased with Cortines' appointment. Public speaker Lady Cage Barile chastised the board for paying $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving Cortines during his previous tenure with the district. In fact, the lawsuit was dismissed in Cortines' favor, according to district spokesmen, and the sum was never paid out.

Under the new contract, the district is responsible for any legal fees associated with Cortines in his "official or individual capacity," including settlements.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the resolution of the sexual harassment lawsuit. KPCC regrets the error.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines LAUSD Contract