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Aspire Public Schools names Carolyn Hack as new chief executive

Craig Clough | June 17, 2015

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Aspire Titan AcademyAspire Public Schools, which operates 10 independent charter schools in LA Unified, today named Carolyn Hack as its new CEO. Hack, who is chief financial and operating officer for Uncommon Schools in New York, will replace outgoing CEO James Willcox, who is stepping down in September.

“We are delighted that Carolyn Hack will be the next leader of Aspire,” Aspire board member Jonathan Garfinkel said in a statement. “Carolyn’s deep experience at Uncommon Schools and alignment with Aspire’s values and mission give her the tools to build on Aspire’s success.”

Aspire operates schools with LA Unified in Huntington Park, South LA and South Gate as part of its network of 38 schools in California and Tennessee.

Aspire provided the following background on its new CEO: “Hack brings a strong mix of knowledge, experience, passion and energy to Aspire. A former Bay Area high school math teacher, basketball and soccer coach, Hack has spent the last nine years at Uncommon Schools. While at Uncommon, Hack helped lead its growth from seven schools to the 42 high-performing charter schools it operates today in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

It also said Hack oversaw all core support for Uncommon including finance, real estate, infrastructure, legal and data management and she “shepherded the financial stability of Uncommon’s home office, which has operated without reliance on outside philanthropy for two years. Also, under Hack’s guidance, over 80 percent of Uncommon’s schools are running on public dollars only.”

Hack previously served as the associate executive director of development and administration for Anchor, a nonprofit that created boarding programs for underserved youth.

“For years, Aspire’s work to deliver on its ‘College for Certain’ promise has served as a personal inspiration providing valuable lessons in my own work at Uncommon,” Hack said in a statement. “I’m honored by the opportunity to join the Aspire family as it continues to expand opportunities and support for students, teachers and their families.”

Aspire was involved in a controversy last year when the LA Unified board denied the renewal of two of its schools, Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy and Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Academy, despite their high academic performance and former Superintendent John Deasy‘s strong advocacy for their renewal.

The denial was made due to the schools’ refusal to provide special education to its students by going directly through an LA Unified-administered special education plan. The two schools were ultimately renewed through the LA County Board of Education.

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