LA Board Advances on Possible John Deasy Departure

Lawyers representing the Los Angeles Board of Education will be discussing the possibility of a departure agreement with schools Superintendent John Deasy.

The decision was made behind closed doors at a private session last week, and has not been disclosed publicly. Several sources have told The LA Times that there has been no decision concerning a buyout as of yet. Those sources asked to remain anonymous as they did not have permission to speak freely concerning the matter.

According to Deasy's contract, he is due for an annual review prior to the end of the month. His term, which started in April 2011, is not set to end until June 2016. If he were to receive a positive review, his contract would automatically be extended by one year. However, he is also subject to termination at any time within a 30-day notice period.

Supporters of Deasy account his efforts in raising test scores and graduation rates as well as improving results for students learning English. They also favor his endeavors to raise accountability for teachers and principals, as well as reducing student suspensions and providing free breakfasts in public schools.

However, those who oppose Deasy are angry over the controversy concerning the $1.3 billion iPad rollout, in which Deasy was found to have had a previous relationship with Apple and Pearson prior to contracting the companies. Problems surrounded the rollout of a following technological project that promised to be a new student records system.

Critics also claim Deasy has a leadership style that is demoralizing to teachers and other educators.

Many civic and business leaders remain in support of Deasy and are urging the board to reconsider this move, going so far as to write a letter to board members.

"If the board remains unfocused, we run the risk of losing the student achievement gains we have made during a short period of time. We have a responsibility to work together and bring the focus back to improving academic achievement and fostering student learning."

Deasy does not fair well with many board members. Many of them faced difficult elections against allies of Deasy, while others feel that he does not pay attention to their suggestions as much as he should.

Recently, Deasy has expressed insecurity in his ability to carry out his duties. However, he has not said he would quit, nor has the board admitted to thoughts of firing him.

According to The LA Times, four or five members appear to be leaning toward firing Deasy. However, supporters on the board may be working toward preparing a deal that Deasy would approve.

Deasy's $350,000 contract was revised last year, having certain student achievement goals withdrawn due to new test scores being unavailable.

The goals to increase revenue and enrollment remained. While revenue has gone up due to an improved statewide funding program, enrollment has seen a downward slope the past few years.

No side is commenting on the issue. However, in a letter to board President Richard Vladovic, Deputy Superintendent Michelle King offered help, writing that the board "may be considering a leadership change."

"Should this be the case, I respectfully request consideration to serve as Interim Superintendent," she wrote.

The confidential letter was written on LA Unified stationary. King was not available for comment.

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