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LA Unified board announces new hires for district area chiefs

Vanessa Romo | May 26, 2015

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Frances Gipson

Frances Gipson


After forging ahead with a massive overhaul of LA Unified’s Education Service Centers by Superintendent Ramon Cortines in March, the school board today approved contracts for three new local area superintendents and renewed contracts for another three.

Among the new hires is Vivian Ekchian, who will head the newly created Northwest region. As the district’s chief labor negotiator, Ekchian was instrumental in reaching new contract deals with the district’s major union partners, including the teachers union.

Frances Marie Gipson is taking over from Roberto Martinez to lead the East office. She is currently the principal of El Sereno Middle School and Magnet Center and has worked for the District for more than 20 years in numerous administrative positions, including administrator of instruction for Local District 5.

Martinez, in turn, is moving to spearhead another newly created office, Central, while Byron Maltez, becomes head of Northeast. Christopher Downing is replacing Robert Bravo in South, while Cheryl Hildreth is staying put in her current position in the  West.

The newly appointed superintendents, the top executives in the regional districts, will report directly to Cortines. Their first priority will be to select instructional directors, operations administrators and additional support staff, district officials said in a statement today.

“As a former teacher and a principal, I know firsthand, decisions made locally tend to be more responsive to the needs of schools and families,” Cortines said.

Cortines re-drew existing ESC borders to cover more “geographically based” areas for the 2015-16 school year. He also eliminated the Intensive Support and Innovation Center that worked across the district overseeing services for students with special needs and gifted and talented instruction. The district’s pilot schools were also placed under the purview of ISIC. It currently serves 149 schools and approximately 100,000 students throughout LA Unified.

The new configuration ensures each district will contain fewer than 100,000 students, and fewer than 150 schools.

Another appointment approved today was that of Shahryar Khazei who is getting a promotion from Deputy Chief Information Officer to take over as Chief Information Officer. The position was was left open in October, 2014 when Ron Chandler resigned amid public outrage over the disastrous rollouts of  the the district’s two biggest technology programs: iPads and MISIS.


*Updated: An earlier version said Chris Downing previously ran the South ESC. It is currently lead by Robert Bravo.

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