LA Schools Chief On The Hot Seat - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

LA Schools Chief On The Hot Seat

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Tomorrow is report card day for LA Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy. The school board will decide how good a job he's done during his relatively short tenure with LA Unified. His most ardent supporters would probably give Deasy an "A." They will tell you he's performed admirably in a very difficult job with a district that has a lot of problems. Deasy's detractors, primarily the teachers and their union, also would probably give him an "A" for "Awful." Deasy is wildly unpopular with the rank and file.

Even though he was given a contract extension, the 52 year old Deasy has reportedly told close friends he's had enough and could resign in February. Although the superintendent said last week that he had not tendered his resignation and would not comment on whether he plans to quit until after his evaluation tomorrow. If he does decide to hit the road, few could blame him. The last year or so on the job has been extremely challenging to say the least.

Deasy encountered a wall of resistance from teachers and the union when he revamped teacher evaluations to include the use of students' standardized test scores. He also changed the seniority system to limit the effects of job cuts at schools with large numbers of inexperienced instructors who typically are the first to be laid off.

One huge supporter of the superintendent was former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with whom he was closely associated. The current mayor Eric Garcetti is also a big fan, calling reports that Deasy may resign in February "disheartening." The problem is, two school board candidates allied with Deasy lost in the recent elections. Those seats went instead to candidates backed by the teachers union, who wasted no time challenging Deasy's policies.

But perhaps the biggest challenge to Deasy has been one in which he has been an active participant. His quest to provide i-Pads to the more than 600-thousand district students at a cost of 1-billion dollars has been beset by one problem after another. The i-Pad nightmare began when students circumvented the security system, allowing them to do things other than school work on the devices. Then questions were raised about who would replace lost or stolen iPads and how the price tag on the tablets could end up higher than originally thought.

Whether Deasy stays or goes is one thing. The bigger question is, how to effectively manage a district that seems to be increasingly polarized and unmanageable. Some suggest the district is simply too big and unwieldy and should be broken up. That's probably not going to happen. Teacher discontentment, low student test scores, battles over the budget; all of these issues will still exist no matter who sits in the superintendent's seat. And no matter what he or she does, or how well intentioned, one group or another is not going to like it.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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