Education

LAUSD Board rejects public forums with superintendent finalists

L.A. Unified teacher Elgin Scott holds a likeness of former superintendent John Deasy at a teachers union rally protesting what they say is the influence of billionaire Eli Broad in the school district's superintendent search.
L.A. Unified teacher Elgin Scott holds a likeness of former superintendent John Deasy at a teachers union rally protesting what they say is the influence of billionaire Eli Broad in the school district's superintendent search.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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The Los Angeles Unified school board on Tuesday voted against allowing the finalists for the district superintendent post to attend public forums.

In a 4 to 3 vote, the board rejected a motion by member Monica Ratliff calling for the finalists to be introduced at the events where the public could have a chance to interact with the candidates.

But the board heard from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the firm that is helping members search for the next leader of the second largest school district in the country.

“There are pros and cons to a public interview of the finalists,” said Hank Gmitro, the firm's president.

He said a confidential search would likely lead to a stronger candidate pool. The advantage of a public process that reveals the names is that it lets the public connect with the candidates, he said.

One of the newest members of the school board, charter school administrator Ref Rodriguez, backed a confidential search.

“We are interested in the most qualified candidate that will achieve the ambitious goals that we have for all kids graduating from this district: zero dropouts, A through G for all, reading by nine,” he said, referring to the A to G courses that help get students college-ready.

The public can still voice their opinions about the kind of superintendent they want at forums to begin next week (see schedule below). The school board also agreed to pick civic leaders to take part in focus group meetings that the district would schedule.

The school board has yet to tell its search firm how many finalist names it wants or its deadline to hand over those names.

Outside the school board meeting, several dozen LAUSD teachers, and leaders of their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, marched on the sidewalk, chanted, and staged some street theater to protest what they contend is philanthropist Eli Broad's effort to influence the superintendent search process.

"Parents have insights, students have insights, educators, and employees have insights in what we need to lead this school district. So absolutely this should be a transparent process where the public should be engaged," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl.

Teachers are upset about a recently unveiled draft proposal circulated by the Broad Foundation that calls for 130,000 additional charter school seats over eight years. They're also upset that a coalition of 50 L.A. civic groups, many of them funded by the Broad Foundation, are seeking an active part in the superintendent search process.

"I would like to see a superintendent that was a teacher for a significant amount of time," said fourth-grade teacher Elgin Scott. "I would like to see a superintendent that is innately connected, philosophically, educationally with teaching rather than a mayor, a governor, or some head of industry. I want a teacher up there."

The school board did not address the group's proposal at its Tuesday's meeting.

Superintendent Search Public Forums

Monday, Oct. 19
6 p.m. 

Roybal Learning Center Auditorium
1200 Colton St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tuesday, Oct. 20
9 a.m. 
Local District-East Office (PLCC Room)
2151 N. Soto St.
Los Angeles 90032

7 p.m.
Local District-East Office (Saldivar Room)
2151 N. Soto St.
Los Angeles 90032

7 p.m.
Local District-Northeast Community Forum
Cesar Chavez Learning Academy
1001 Arroyo Ave.
San Fernando 91340

Wednesday, Oct. 21
8:30 a.m.
Local District-Northwest Community Forum
James Monroe High School - Odin's Hall
9229 Haskell Ave.
North Hills 91343

9 a.m.
Local District-East Community Forum
South Gate High School Auditorium
3351 Firestone Blvd. 
South Gate 90280

1 p.m.
Local District-Central Community Forum
Belmont High School Auditorium
1575 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles 90026

6:30 p.m.
Local District-Central Community Forum
Belmont High School Auditorium
1575 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles 90026

7 p.m.
Local District-East Community Forum
South Gate High School Auditorium
3351 Firestone Ave.
South Gate 90280

7 p.m.
Local District-Northwest Community Forum
Monroe High School - Odin's Hall
9229 Haskell Ave.
North Hills 91343

Thursday, Oct. 22
8:30 a.m.
Local District-Northwest Community Forum
Valley Academy Theatre
10445 Balboa Blvd. 
Granada Hills 91344

9 a.m.
Local District-East Community Forum
HIlda L. Solis Learning Academy Gymnasium
319 N. Humphreys Ave.
Los Angeles 90022

7 p.m.
Local District-Northwest Community Forum
Valley Academy Theatre
10445 Balboa Blvd.
Granada Hills 91344

7 p.m.
Local District-South Community Forum
Diego Rivera Learning Center
6100 S. Central Ave.
Los Angeles 90001

Monday, Oct. 26
9 a.m.
Local District-West Community Forum
Webster Middle School-Daniel's Den
11330 W. Graham Pl.
Los Angeles 9006

7 p.m.
Local District-West Community Forum
Webster Middle School -Daniel's Den
11330 W. Graham Pl. 
Los Angeles 90064

Tuesday, Oct. 27
9 a.m.
Local District-West Community Forum
Crenshaw High School-Multipurpose Room
4120 11th Ave.
Los Angeles 90008

11 a.m.
Local District-Central Community Forum
Eagle Rock High School Auditorium
1750 Yosemite Dr. 
Los Angeles 90041

6:30 p.m.
Local District-Central Community Forum
Eagle Rock High School Auditorium
1750 Yosemite Dr. 
Los Angeles 90041

7 p.m.
Local District-West Community Forum
Crenshaw High School
4120 11th Ave.
Los Angeles 90008

Wednesday, Oct. 28
7 p.m.
Local District-Northeast Community Forum
Van Nuys High School
6535 Cedris Ave.
Van Nuys 91411

7 p.m.
Local District-South Community Forum
White Middle School-White Hall
22102 S. Figueroa St. 
Carson 90745