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Caputo-Pearl insists Deasy’s resignation not a victory for UTLA

Craig Clough | October 16, 2014

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Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the teachers union, UTLA, stopped short today of saying he was pleased with former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy‘s resignation, instead insisting that achieving the union’s contract demands — not Deasy’s resignation — would be a victory.

“What’s going to be a victory for UTLA is actually winning the demands in our Schools LA Student’s Deserve campaign,” he said at an afternoon prerss conference at UTLA headquarters, referring to the union’s contract demands that include higher salaries for teachers, smaller class sizes and the end of teacher jail. “I think his departure offers an opportunity to actually address some of the demands in our campaign”

The union president has been one of Deasy’s most vocal critics over the last few months, rarely missing an opportunity to publicly hammer him on his policies, leadership style and fumbling of two huge computer technology initiatives.

But he always avoided directly calling for Deasy’s firing or resignation, and despite Deasy’s now official resignation, he continued to use aggressive yet pin-pointedly careful language that has characterized most of his attacks on the former superintendent. (See the attached video for highlights of the press conference.)

Caputo-Pearl called Deasy’s resignation “an opportunity towards a more collaborative management style and towards building fully-funded schools that serve all of our students” and a shift away from a “corporate turnaround model of public schools.”

He promised that the union would  try to work with any interim or permanent superintendent in seeking new contract that is consistent with the union’s Schools LA Student’s Deserve campaign.

Reporters pressed him to answer if he was “glad” Deasy was gone, and if it was “fair or too harsh to say that the union had a great deal in getting rid of the superintendent.” But Caputo-Pearl fell back on carefully chosen language that he had used in the past.

“Our position has been very clear as UTLA. Our position has been that the school board should hold John Deasy accountable,” he said, again not clarifying what “accountable” means in relation to Deasy. “John Deasy has said that all district employees should be held accountable, and the same should apply to him. So we did encourage accountably, which is a pretty common sense thing to encourage.”

Caputo-Pearl also chose not to discuss Deasy’s $60,000 buyout or the board’s choice of Ray Cortines, who retired while facing a sexual harassment lawsuit from a district employee as interim superintendent over LAUSD Deputy Superintendent of School Operations Michelle King.

“I’m not going to comment on that. We’re going to make every effort to work with anyone who supports the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign,” he said.

Perhaps Caputo-Pearl’s only eyebrow-raising comment was his assertion that in Deasy’s Common Core Technology Project, there “seemed to be credible allegations of bid rigging,” despite the school board’s issuing a statement today that the members believed a forthcoming Inspector General’s report would clear Deasy of any “unethical violations or unlawful acts.”

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