According to Howard Blume in The Los Angeles Times, sentiments recently expressed by Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy are going to put him in an awkward position with the newly elected president of the Board of Education Richard Vladovic. Vladovic was elected to the post by the seven-member board even after Deasy indicated privately that he would resign his position if Vladovic emerged victorious.
Vladovic’s election is only the latest in a series of political setbacks experienced by the leader of one of the largest school districts in the country. When Deasy initially took the job in 2011, his agenda for improving Los Angeles schools was backed not only by the board but by the then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. LAUSD has undergone a number of changes during his leadership, including moving forward with the adoption of the new state curriculum standards and entering into a contract with Apple to supply students in the city’s schools with an iPad digital tablet.
Deasy has also been instrumental in putting in place new, more rigorous teacher evaluation systems that will take into account students’ standardized test scores.
However, over time, Deasy has lost much of the political backing he had enjoyed at the start of his tenure. Now he will have to contend with a board president who has very different ideas about how the district should be looking to spend their money.
Deasy’s current agenda includes pay increases, with larger bumps for teachers that are tied to measurable results or leadership roles. Vladovic, in contrast, leans toward restoring staffing levels to reduce class sizes, for example, or provide more counselors for students. That position aligns closely with the teachers union’s [positions].
The relationship between a board president — who has mostly ceremonial powers — and a superintendent matters. The president works closely with the superintendent, establishing the meeting agenda and setting a tone for the entire board, said former L.A. school board president Marlene Canter.
“You have to have a relationship to work through the problems together,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything.”
Vladovic’s views are only part of the problem according to Blume. His personality could be an issue as well. Deasy is concerned that Vladovic’s temper could become an issue and could flare up enough to cost Deasy some of his most trusted subordinates, especially Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino, who oversees the district’s academic performance. Earlier this year, Aquino and Vladovic got into a shouting match.
A San Pedro High graduate, Vladovic said he chose to teach in L.A. Unified, starting in 1969, turning down a more prosperous school system. “I did not think I was needed in Palos Verdes,” he said.
His rise included a stint as principal at Locke High and long experience in staff relations, where he mediated conflicts and investigated and meted out employee discipline. He became a regional superintendent before accepting a job heading West Covina Unified.
He left after two and a half years to deal with heart problems that blood pressure medication eventually controlled.