Although his contract was renewed last year through 2016, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy announced his resignation today. Former LAUSD Superintendent, Ramon C. Cortines, will begin serving as interim Superintendent on October 20. The Board of Education’s decision to temporarily replace Deasy with Cortines reflects their controversial support of the latter despite paying $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in 2012. Deasy did not encounter personal controversy, but he experienced substantial push-back as he fought for significant changes to the district. His vision to move the district in a new direction meant reforming punitive discipline policies that criminalized students and expanding the daily free school breakfast program to feed over 300,000 of them.
Yet Deasy waded through controversy since the beginning of his tenure as superintendent of the nation’s second-largest school district, especially as he pushed through severe budget cuts and the layoff of thousands of LAUSD employees during the recession. Among his biggest detractors were members of the school board and the teacher’s union, and the lightening rod of their criticism came over his fight for increased technology in classrooms. Controversy over the $30 million program peaked as KPCC reported on emails among Deasy, Pearson, and Apple a year before bids were placed.
Now the question for teachers, parents, and schoolchildren becomes: What will it take for the next superintendent to lead the district?
Annie Gilbertson, KPCC’s education reporter
Alicia Lara, Vice President of Community Investment for United Way Los Angeles
Cheryl Ortega, current substitute teacher in LAUSD and a retired LAUSD teacher who has taught in the district for over 38 years