L.A. Unified District Superintendent John Deasy stepped down Thursday, and his resignation marks the end of his nearly four-year tenure as superintendent of the second-largest school district in the country.
His resignation comes after months of criticism over his management style and technology initiatives, including the iPad program and a brand new digital student attendance and grading system that was working so poorly it left some high school kids at risk of not graduating.
For more on what this means for L.A. schools, LA Unified School Board member Steve Zimmer weighs in.
Why was Ramon Cortines chosen as interim superintendent and how will you search for his permanent replacement?
With Cortines I'd never use the word "interim." This will be the third time he has led the district. No one knows this district better. No one in the nation has more experience in running large urban school districts than Ray Cortines. Superintendent Cortines will bring stability to our school communities and I think that he will bring a sense of cooperative momentum to move forward on a lot of the transformational changes that were made in policy during Dr. Deasy's tenure.
The statement from the district says Cortines will serve as superintendent of schools pending a search process for a successor to John Deasy. So how do you go about looking for a more permanent replacement?
We certainly know Superintendent Cortines can guide us through the rest of the school year keeping our schools in tact and momentum moving forward for students. We know that Superintendent Cortines, if needed, could open our school year next year. So the process for naming the superintendent who will serve the next lengthy tenure in LAUSD will commence some time over this period. It will be a very, very intentional process that includes the voices of the community, teachers parents and everybody who has a stake in the future of public education in Los Angeles.
What led to the decision that Deasy's departure would be in the best interest of the district?
This was a very difficult decision. The improvements in terms of educational outcomes for students are very clear and very important and that weighed heavily upon us. Dr. Deasy has led us through that process. We're very proud of that work and very thankful for his role in it. But we are moving into a period of implementation of some of these changes that involves a very different type of leadership. It involves a unique form of cooperations and we felt that at this juncture it was the best thing to kind of start again with building those kind of trusting relationships that can create the cooperation we need to implement these changes cooperatively.
Some parents have a sense of disappointment, not so much with Deasy as with the board. Some people feel you don't get along and that's making the board dysfunctional. Your response?
I understand that narrative and I feel badly about that perception. But the work of this board over the past month to make these two very important decisions has proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that this board is working together, committing to putting children first, to ensuring the public education outcomes for kids living in the most difficult positions of peril in our city are transformed. We have a huge responsibility.