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Chandler, LAUSD’s head of IT, resigns in face of MiSiS crisis

Vanessa Romo | October 31, 2014

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Ron Chandler

Ron Chandler

Ron Chandler, LA Unified’s Chief Information Officer and the public face of the district’s two biggest technology programs, iPads and the new student-tracking system, resigned today in a shuffling of the district’s Information Technology Department.

The move is the latest and most decisive change during Ramon Cortines‘s first two weeks as superintendent, and it comes as he has made his first priority cleaning up a monumental technological mess with MiSiS that has left students in the wrong classes and with no classes at all.

Chandler’s resignation takes effect Dec. 31 although he has been relieved of his responsibilities as of today. Under the terms of his separation agreement, he will be paid through the end of the year, including accrued vacation time. His two-year contract with an annual salary of $212,724 was last renewed in April.

The newly appointed superintendent, who actually hired Chandler in 2010, insisted that his leaving will not slow-down his MiSiS efforts. “It’s not going to cause more disruption,” Cortines told LA School Report. “In putting together a team I’m saying this is not one person’s problem, this is the district’s problem.”

But, while he accepted Chandler’s resignation, Cortines linked problems to his predecessor, John Deasy, for pulling the trigger on the faulty program at the start of the school year despite ample evidence that it was not ready.

The district will begin soliciting applications to fill the now vacant Chandler post “very shortly, but that’s going to take months,” Cortines said.

For the immediate future, the plan is to keep consultant Arnold Viramontes on as an advisor on MiSiS. Viramontes is scheduled to deliver a report containing information about what went wrong with the data system and a strategy for making improvements on Tuesday.  Cortines will share the results with the school board in a closed meeting. However, he said the documents will be made publicly available immediately following.

Upon learning of Chandler’s resignation Board President Richard Vladovic said, “It is in the best interest for the District to have new leadership in that area. I am confident that Superintendent Cortines has been thorough in his investigations to make informed decisions that will lead us in the right direction.”  

Other board members suggested the problems were not all Chandler’s fault.

“It was not Mr. Chandler’s decision to turn on MiSiS, nor should he be the only one held accountable,” Bennet Kayser told LA School Report. “When I sent my letter warning of MiSiS problems at Bell High School in July, I went to the top, accountability should start there.”

Steve Zimmer expressed similar sentiments saying, “All of us as leaders have to be held accountable for the decisions that we make, but I think that in looking at the crisis from a wide-angle lens, it’s clear to me that Chandler was under a great deal of pressure to move forward.”

He continued: “While the pressures on the district right now are remarkable and there does need to be accountability, I personally appreciate Ron Chandler’s willingness to take responsibility for these problems whether or not he was solely responsible.”

With Deasy gone, the only other high level official integral to the launch of MiSiS is Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill, to whom Chandler previously reported. It was Hill who recommended to Deasy sticking to the district’s timeline.

Chandler’s departure is the latest in several moves at the district in fulfilling Cortines’s promise to solve problems with the MiSiS system. Earlier this week, the district terminated the contract of an outside consultant, Bria Jones, who had been hired to play a major role in the MiSiS project.

Hours later he announced the creation of a new position of Program Manager “to coordinate all of the MiSiS project teams to increase transparency and accountability.” Gary Sabia, a management consultant with the district, was appointed to the post. District officials said Sabia has been called upon often in recent years to provide the district management expertise in various operational initiatives

And Hill has altered his responsibilities to include spending more time on MiSiS.

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