Superintendent Deasy resigns after controversial term

He’s replaced by retired Superintendent Ramón Cortines on an interim basis



Supt. John Deasy resigned this past month. In this 2013 photo, Deasy held a press conference with high school student journalists to discuss the ramifications of Propositions 30 and 38 on the Nov. 6, 2013 ballot. Photo by Hassan Muhammad .

Anne Lima

After months of tension between the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education and Supt. John Deasy, the board has officially accepted the resignation of Deasy, 53, and appointed previous Supt. Ramón Cortines, 82, to fill in the position.

On Oct. 21, the school board ratified a contract for Cortines to serve as superintendent through June of 2016. According to an L.A. Times article published on Oct. 21, Cortines will be paid at an annual rate of $300,000 per year, $50,000 less than Deasy.

Deasy’s resignation comes after months of criticism over his management style and for what teachers and school board members said was an autocratic and uncommunicative leadership style. His technology initiatives, most notably the failed iPad program, and the $130 million software program MiSiS, that was designed to track students’ information, which malfunctioned at the beginning of the school year.

The district’s investigation into the questionable proceedings of the bidding process surrounding Deasy’s iPad program is still underway, although Deasy still claims that the bidding process was fair.

Despite what his critics blame him for, Deasy supporters still maintain he’s had a positive effect on schools since becoming the head of the district. Test scores and graduation rates have risen. They also applaud him for the Breakfast In Classroom (BIC) program that has reached about 300,000 students.

This is Cortines’ third term as head of LAUSD. He lead the school system for six months in 2000, then according to an L.A. Times article published on Oct. 16, from late 2008 through April 2011, in which he retired and Deasy took over. He has a long career as a respected educator.

“Cortines is a critical player in LAUSD,” district spokesperson Lydia Ramos said in a phone interview.  “He has come in as a stabilizing force, making gains and building on the improvements we’ve (the district), made together.”

In a statement to LAUSD, Cortines said, “I pledge to work better and smarter

this time around. No superintendent can solve the issues alone; it is only the team.  Let’s move forward together for our students and the future of Los Angeles.”

In his statement, Cortines included a step-by-step plan that the district will take on in upgrading MiSiS and the district will present a plan, which will include costs and budgetary impacts.

“(Cortines’) knows the representatives and he knows how to reach out,” Ramos said. “Everyone has a different style. His style and experience are going to help the district move forward into working with the union, and improving on and building on what LAUSD has been doing.”