Los Angeles Teachers Union Votes No Confidence on Deasy

Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) teachers union have expressed “no confidence” in the performance the district superintendent John Deasy in a formal vote. More than 90% of those casting a ballot said that they did not agree with Deasy’s handling of his professional responsibilities.

More than 17,000 of the union’s 32,000 members voted in the referendum. The vote is non-binding on Deasy, but union leadership says that the outcome means that their members approve of the aggressive stance they have taken against policies promoted by Deasy and other district official.

Even before the outcome of the vote was made public, Deasy called the whole enterprise “nonsense,” including the campaign waged on the union website to sway the member votes via poorly photoshopped pictures of the Superintendent in various unflattering settings.

Still, a no confidence vote was not necessarily a foregone conclusion. The referendum came soon after union members overwhelmingly approved a new teacher evaluation agreement and after L.A. Unified School District restored unpaid furlough days. The confidence vote was placed before teachers by the union’s House of Representatives, which contains many new delegates and younger teachers, who were presumed to be more supportive of Deasy.

Teachers who expressed dissatisfaction with Deasy chiefly complained about the new focus on standardized exams, saying that this has made the classroom a less enjoyable place for both students and instructors.

Yet the opprobrium wasn’t universal. Chris Records, who voted in support of Deasy, said that he was encouraged by the stances he took in support of both school leaders and teachers themselves — especially when he showed the willingness to work with the union on the teacher evaluation issue.

Anticipating the outcome, Deasy’s defenders rallied Thursday with a letter to the L.A. Board of Education.

“Although we have a long journey ahead of us, we believe that LAUSD leadership is taking the appropriate and productive steps to achieve success for all of its students,” the letter states, citing rising test scores and graduation rates and few student suspensions. “During his tenure Dr. Deasy has proven himself a more than capable leader.”

Those signing the letter included James Cuno, head of the J. Paul Getty Trust; Antonia Hernandez, chief executive of the California Community Foundation; Monica Lozano, publisher of La Opinion; and Gary Toebben, president of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce.

The vote of no confidence on Deasy did overshadow the other issue on the ballot, which asked the voters to evaluate the performance of the current union leadership — a measure that gained 77% approval.