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LA Unified’s next boss? Round up the usual (and unusual) suspects

Craig Clough | October 21, 2014

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LA Unified superintendentNow that John Deasy has stepped down as superintendent of LA Unified, replaced on an interim basis by Ray Cortines, it’s open season on speculating who might be considered as a permanent superintendent.

In the second largest district in the nation, the challenges of finding a candidate who is qualified, interested in the job and gels with the LA Unified school board are sure to be imposing. The recent experiences of Deasy and his like-minded superintendents around the country who have struggled in efforts for change, would suggest that Cortines’s successor would need superlative policy credentials as well as great political instincts to bring opposing sides together.

A successor would also need to avoid the kind of mistakes LA Unified made with technology programs. Is such a person out there?

As Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality told LA School Report, “I don’t know a single person on earth who would want that terrible job. It won’t be a change agent. It will be a status quo candidate who will make life pleasant for himself by enjoying all the wrapping of the superintendency and being smart enough not to try and change a thing.”

In any case, let the speculation begin. Below is a list of possible candidates, compiled by LA School Report :

  • Alberto M. Carvalho has served as superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school system, since 2008. He was named Florida’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year, the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year and has worked his whole career for the district
  • Richard A. Carranza has served as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District since 2012. He previously served as deputy superintendent of Instruction, Innovation and Social Justice at the district from 2009 to 2012 and as northwest region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas. 

  • Joshua Starr has served as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland since 2011. He began his career as a special education teacher in New York City and served as superintendent of Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut.
  • Heath E. Morrison has seved as superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg  Schools district in North Carolina since 2012. He previously served as superintendent of the Washoe County School District in Nevada and community superintendent for the Down County Consortium in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.
  • James Morris is superintendent of the Fremont Unified School District in Northern California. Morris previously worked for LA Unified for nearly 30 years before leaving in 2010 for Fremont. He served in a number of roles at LAUSD, first at Roscoe Elementary School in Sun Valley in 1981, as 6th grade teacher and lastly as chief operating officer.
  • Jackie Goldberg is a former LA Unified school board member, city council member and member of the California Assembly. A well known but somewhat controversial figure in Los Angeles politics, she has close ties to United Teachers Los Angeles and was mentioned in media reports to be a candidate for the superintendent’s job in 2006.
  • Christopher J. Steinhauser has been superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District since 2002 and has been with the district for over 30 years. He also went to school in the district from kindergarten through high school.
  • Gregory A. Franklin has been superintendent of of the Tustin Unified School District since 2011 and previously served as superintendent of the Los Alamitos Unified School District, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Glendale Unified School District and assistant superintendent of human resources in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District.


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