LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday moved to extend Superintendent John Deasy’s contract to 2016, days after a published report said he would resign.
The surprising announcement came after a roughly six-hour closed-door meeting.
“The Board of Education gave the superintendent a satisfactory performance evaluation, which extends the term of his employment contract through June 30, 2016 pursuant to the terms of that contract,” LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist said after a closed-door meeting that lasted nearly six hours.
A few members of the audience expressed anger and disbelief as the decision was read. Most sat in stunned silence as Deasy and school board President Richard Vladovic, known to have had a rocky relationship, made brief statements pledging cooperation and teamwork.
“I thank the board very much for a good and robust evaluation,” Deasy said. “I particularly thank you for a really excellent and honest conversation on building the rapport to work together so that we can continue to lift youth out of poverty. I’m very proud, as you all were, of what we have done for students and what we’re going to continue to do for students, and I look forward to us as a team continuing to advocate on behalf of the students of this amazing city.”
“This has been a journey for all of us, and we’re focused on the children,” Vladovic said. “We are moving forward and the board took action tonight.”
It is unclear what the impact was of the organized demonstrations in support of Deasy outside and inside the school board meeting.
The public comment portion of the meeting saw words of support for Deasy in both English and Spanish. Of the 16 speakers, three were critical of the superintendent.
“It would be a great tragedy if Dr. Deasy is not given the opportunity to continue to lead this district,” one supporter said.
A letter from 20 civic leaders also urged school board members to compromise and negotiate a deal that would keep Deasy in Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Deasy supporter, was against a leadership change in the middle of the school year.
“It would have a devastating effect on our children,” he said.
Deasy became superintendent in April 2011, succeeding retiring Supt. Ramon Cortines. He joined the district in August 2010 as Cortines’ chief deputy.
A close ally of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Deasy revamped teacher evaluations to include the use of students’ standardized test scores.
He also altered the seniority system to limit the effect of job cuts at schools with large numbers of less-experienced instructors, who are generally the first to be laid off.
The teachers union, UTLA, was often at odds with Deasy. This past July, it issued a report that said 85 percent of the members who answered a survey rated the superintendent as below average or poor.
In a statement, UTLA President Warren Fletcher called the board action “unbelievable.”
“Deasy’s leadership is anything but satisfactory. It’s a sad day when political maneuvering trumps the needs of students and schools.”
Deasy previously served as deputy director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Prince George’s County Schools in Maryland.
The Los Angeles Times first reported last week that Deasy would resign in February, and reporters were shown a statement Tuesday afternoon outlining a proposed settlement under which Deasy would resign.
The closed-door nature of the meeting left many questions unanswered, including how the decision changed so dramatically from earlier reports and if the vote was unanimous.