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Former Supt. Deasy Leaves Post to Work for Gates Foundation

By Lookout Staff

October 1 – Former School Superintendent John Deasy announced Tuesday that he will resign his post heading a Washington, D.C.-area school district to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

During his less than two and a half years heading Prince George's County Public School System, Deasy was credited with increasing test scores and bringing more accountability to the troubled inner-city district.

Recently, however, Deasy found himself at the center of controversy when it was revealed he had earned his Ph.D. over the course of a semester from the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

The former dean, who is currently under federal investigation, was hired by Deasy as a consultant when he ran the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District. The controversy, did not play a part in his decision, according to district officials at Prince George's County.

"For the Board of Education, it is bittersweet to lose an effective superintendent," School board Chair Verjeana Jacobs told the Montgomery County Sentinel.

Deasy, who will serve as deputy director at the foundation’s education division of its U.S. Programs subsidiary, informed the Board of Education of his decision Monday night during a closed-door meeting. On Tuesday, he made his move public.

School district spokesman John White said Deasy's decision was not spur of the moment.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has “been talking to him on and off for months," White told the Sentinel.

"The talks took a very serious turn only recently," Senior Program Officer Chris Williams told the Sentinel.

Williams called Deasy “a leader (who is) about getting results for students" and said the superintendent had a clear track record of working with minority students and teachers, according to the Sentinel.

The school board voiced its unwavering support of the superintendent and said his approval was not based on his doctorate degree.

Deasy, who plans to leave the system by the middle of next year, “will focus on promoting policies and practices designed to ensure that all student graduate from high school with the knowledge they need to succeed in college,” according to the Sentinel.

An editorial in the Washington Post on Wednesday bemoaned the early departure of Deasy, who took over the beleaguered district in May 2006.

“Without a doubt, many of the struggles of Prince George's schools are attributable to the upset and disruption caused by the succession of short-term superintendents,” the Post wrote.

“Mr. Deasy is the fourth since 1999, and none has lasted more than four years. Consider that when Mr. Deasy came to the county, he said it takes four years to get a system solidly on track and eight years to bring it to where it ought to be.

“Unlike some of his predecessors, Mr. Deasy was not forced out. School board members said they are sorry to see him go,” the Post editorial stated. “Nonetheless, behind-the-scenes tensions existed, and it is clear that Mr. Deasy had become worn down.

“Enter the Gates Foundation with its attractive offer for him to make a difference on a national scale. Good for Mr. Deasy -- but too bad he didn't stay long enough to make a lasting difference in Prince George's.”

Ted Winterer for Santa Monica City Council

Dr. Margaret


Vote # 158


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