Los Angeles Board Extends John Deasy’s Contract

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy will not be leaving his post and will continue to lead the nation’s second-largest school district through June 2016.

On October 29th, Deasy, 52, received a satisfactory evaluation from the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education during a closed-door meeting. The board’s decision ended days of speculation about Deasy’s future. His contract was extended through 2016, write Howard Blume, Stephen Ceasar and Teresa Watanabe of The Los Angeles Times.

Last week, Deasy told some district officials that he planned to leave his post in coming months. He has led LAUSD since 2011.

After evaluation meeting, Deasy said in a brief remark that he thanks the board for an “excellent and honest conversation on building the rapport to work together so that we can continue to lift youth out of poverty.” Los Angeles School Board President Richard Vladovic said the board and Deasy would continue to work together and would continue to be “focused on the children.”

The board’s decision to keep Deasy was applauded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who last week urged the school board to make every effort to keep Deasy on the job. However, United Teachers Los Angeles is not happy with Deasy’s contract extension.

“It is unbelievable that the Board of Education has given John Deasy a ‘satisfactory’ evaluation and rewarded him by extending his contract,” United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher said. “It’s a sad day when political maneuvering trumps the needs of students and schools.”

Under terms of Deasy’s contract, a satisfactory evaluation automatically extends his tenure by one year. General Counsel David Holmquist did not report a board vote on the evaluation.

About a dozen students, teachers, parents and community activists urged the board to retain Deasy in an hour of comments before the closed-door meeting. Most said they supported him because his efforts were making a difference to students struggling with English and poverty.

Under Deasy, students have continued to progress, with higher test scores and graduation rates, fewer suspensions, better attendance and more Advanced Placement course enrollment. But they have not progressed as much as Deasy had anticipated in his own ambitious performance goals, which he has largely failed to meet in each of the last two years.

Deasy has met growing resistance from board members and a confrontational teachers union over his reform policies. Some board members and the union have challenged his budget priorities, teacher evaluation system, classroom breakfast program and iPad project, among other things.

Previously, Deasy led three other school districts, including Santa Monica-Malibu Unified for about five years before moving for two years to Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools. He then spent two years as a deputy director at the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Led by Deasy, the school district recently launched a $1-billion project to distribute iPads to every student and teacher. The district plans to buy and distribute free iPads to 640,000 students by late 2014. The district will be using school construction bonds to fund the project, which has been plagued by a difficult rollout and ballooning budget.