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With Melendez gone, Garcetti not sure about replacing her

Vanessa Romo | March 25, 2014

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Thelma Melendez

Thelma Melendez

A week after his education liaison left to join LA Unified, Mayor Eric Garcetti is reconsidering whether he will even have an education deputy on his staff.

Jeff Millman, spokesman for Garcetti, told LA School Report the mayor’s office “has not decided” if it will seek a replacement for Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, who left her post as director of education and workforce development after only seven months on the job.

Melendez has been considered a rising star in education circles after serving in the White House under Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and as superintendent of both Pomona and Santa Ana school districts. She became a full time LA Unified employee with little fanfare last week.

The school board approved her appointment as the second-in-command of the district’s before- and after-school program, Beyond the Bell, in a closed session meeting. The move ended her “on loan” status to the city; LA Unified was footing the bill to pay for Melendez’s $140,000-plus salary, with reimbursement from the city.

Little is known about the future of the office or employees Melendez leaves behind in City Hall.

Millman was noncommittal on a series of questions posed by LA School Report, including: Does the mayor plan to close the Education and Workforce Development office, previously lead by Melendez? In what ways will it change if it remains open?

“We have nothing to announce,” was the only response.

For the time being, Millman said, Abigail Marquez will remain in her role as the associate director and workforce development.

Marquez sits on the  School Construction and Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee, an all-volunteer group that advises the school board on how to spend voter-approved construction bonds.

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