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Deasy Rumored to Be in Line to Head Los Angeles Schools  

By Ann K. Williams
Staff Writer

January 11, 2011 -- Former Santa Monica school district chief John Deasy is likely to be named Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Tuesday, according to news sources.

If reports are correct, Deasy, who headed the Santa Monica-Malibu School District (SMMUSD) from 2001 to 2006, will be in charge of one of the nation's largest school districts, responsible for the education of more than one million students.

While Deasy has been lauded by United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and LAUSD officials, A. J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles stands opposed to Deasy's push for teacher evaluations influenced by student test data, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And Judith Perez, president of Associated Administrators Los Angeles is worried about the way Deasy is being chosen.

"Our concern is that the school board did not go through a transparent process of doing a national search," Perez told the Contra Costa Times Friday.

"This was done behind closed doors."

Deasy joined the LAUSD last summer as deputy superintendent and, if appointed, will replace Ramon C. Cortinez.

Deasy came to Santa Monica in 2001, after leaving his post as superintendent of Coventry (Rhode Island) Public Schools before his contract there expired.

Coventry officials gave his tenure a mixed evaluation, one saying he left their district “in shambles.” (See "Picking Up the Pieces," April 11, 2004)

Once in Santa Monica, Deasy quickly got a reputation for bold and often controversial moves.

Soon after taking over in July 2001, he convened a team of civic leaders to craft a strategic plan to run the District based on a corporate model, pushed for policies to increase standards and split Santa Monica High School into six smaller campuses known as houses.

Deasy led SMMUSD for five years, leaving before his second contract expired to lead the much larger Prince George's County (Maryland) public school system.

Although his departure left Santa Monica school officials scrambling to fill the district's top position, they generally had good things to say about Deasy.

“I think John Deasy has reinvigorated and enhanced the district’s commitment to increasing academic achievement all the while being fiscally responsible,” now School Board President Escarce told the LookOut in 2006.

“John Deasy is peerless and fearless,” Escarce said. “He is one of the top percentage of superintendents in terms of his initiative and vision.”

Deasy stayed in Prince Georges County for little more than two years.
Although he was credited for boosting student success in the mostly poor area, he left under some controversy. Shortly before his departure, the legitimacy of Deasy’s Ph.D. from Louisville University was questioned when it was revealed he had received it after just one semester of work. District officials said at the time that this issue was not a factor in Deasy’s leaving. (See "Former Supt Deasy Leaves Post," October 1, 2008)

Deasy went on to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as its deputy director of education before being tapped by the LAUSD.
The Los Angeles district is expected to announce its new leader Tuesday.


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