Two groups urging LAUSD board to be objective, transparent
Vanessa Romo | September 29, 2014
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With all the uncertainty about how the LA Unified school board intends to evaluate Superintendent John Deasy in his next annual performance review, two new voices have entered the debate, urging the board to act with transparency, put student interests first and keep Deasy where he is.
In separate letters to the board today, both groups called for more objectivity in evaluating Deasy and more transparency in how they decide on the criteria used to judge him.
The board is planning to meet tomorrow in a private session to discuss what metrics to use when Deasy appears before the members next month — again, in private — for his annual job evaluation. Deasy has not been invited to tomorrow’s meeting.
In one letter, the LA Civic Alliance, which includes some of the city’s most influential philanthropists, real estate developers, bankers, lawyers and non-profit leaders, called into question board members’ “real motives” for tomorrow’s closed-door meeting, which many district insiders have speculated is clearing a path to remove Deasy from the helm next month.
While neither letter mention’s Deasy’s handing of the iPad problem or the new computerized student-tracking system — both of which have been plagued with problems — both make it clear that Deasy should be judged by more objective data.
“Superintendent Deasy is not perfect. But progress made in boosting the education of our children under his leadership outweighs the business decisions by which he is being judged,” the Civic Alliance said in the letter, sent to all seven board members.
The groups argue that dismissing Deasy would throw the district into chaos with another transition at LA Unified, and that instability would jeopardize the student achievement gains the district has made over the last two years.
Since Deasy was appointed in 2011, district graduation and attendance rates have gone up, the numbers of African American and Latino students taking Advanced Placement courses and exams have increased, and the district’s school discipline policy has been overhauled resulting in a drastically reduced suspensions and expulsions.
The group says it is alarmed by the board’s decision to call an emergency closed session to discuss the Superintendent’s evaluation.
“We are very concerned that the Board of Directors is going backwards in terms of more closed sessions that curtail community engagement and transparency and potentially allow political influence,” its letter said.
That sentiment was echoed in the second letter, this one from a consortium of educators and community groups.
Leaders from InnerCity Struggle, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Community Coalition and Educators for Excellence, all of whom have partnered with the district on significant programs, want a more objective means of evaluating Deasy.
“We urge the Board to ensure a fair process for determining the parameters to review the Superintendent, the groups say in their letter to board members and their staffs. “We call for an open forum to better understand the perspectives of Board Members on leadership priorities for LAUSD. We also request that these parameters be widely published to all families and employees to foster public trust and transparency.”
And like the Civic Alliance, they called on the board to open decision-making to the public, saying, “Real and honest change doesn’t happen behind closed doors.”