After Resignation, John Deasy Era Over in Los Angeles

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John Deasy has resigned from his position as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

After reaching an agreement with the school board, Deasy announced his resignation in a joint statement with the board.

Deasy had faced criticism from board members and teachers who viewed him as an enemy.  In a lawsuit last year which saw a judge rule that tenure protection laws deprived students of their right to a basic education, and thereby violating their civil rights, Deasy testified against teachers unions in an effort to gain policies that assessed teacher performance and held them accountable.  However, the union said his plan was unfair and too deeply focused on standardized testing.

Criticism also came from the rollout of his $1.3 billion plan to equip each child in the district with an iPad, amounting to 640,000 devices across 900 schools.  Once in students’ hands, the tablets had been easily hacked and used to play games and surf the web during class time rather than following the new digital curriculum.

The new school data system installed earlier this fall had its share of problems as well.  Students were not assigned to classes and others were unable to receive transcripts for college applications.

Ramon C. Cortines, who was superintendent before Deasy, will take over as interim chief of the Los Angeles schools this week.  Cortines had been asked to lead New York schools in 1993, but was dismissed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani two years later.  The mayor reported he was unsatisfied with his budget-cutting efforts.

Less than 24 hours after his resignation, Deasy spoke out about the district, saying the students are in trouble and are in need of highly effective teachers as well as protection from teachers unions, which he referred to as “adults organized in special interest groups.”

“My opinion is that they were strategically used actually to not have a conversation about what was making some folks comfortable or uncomfortable,” said Deasy. “I wish I could have found a better balance between my feeling of urgency in my observation of overwhelming peril and poverty for kids and the ability to have built a more unified will to move quickly to do that.”

Deasy would only say that the decision was a “mutual agreement” with the board. However, he did suggest in an interview with NPR that his leadership style could have had something to do with it.

“I certainly am responsible and consequential for my style of leadership and my agenda, which was students’ rights first,” he tells host Steve Inskeep. That agenda, he says, “definitely made some adults uncomfortable.”

Deasy has not released any new plans, although he is reportedly considering running for public office.