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UTLA making clear to LAUSD board what it wants in next superintendent

Mike Szymanski | August 28, 2015

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UTLAAn open and transparent search, background as an educator and under no circumstances someone from the Broad Academy. Those are the three major criteria that UTLA wants in the next LAUSD school superintendent.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union, told the LA School Report that he has made it known to the school board the kind of superintendent teachers want in a successor to Ramon Cortines.

“So far we have been advocating these three issues,” he said. “We want the process to be transparent and open and understandable. It can’t be a move from the corner office to the front office like John Deasy was last time around and without a process. That didn’t work out well.”

The search process is now underway, with the board set to pick an executive search firm on Sunday. There’s a deadline to the extent that Cortines says he want to step down by December. At the outside, the board wants a successor in place before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

Once the finalists are chosen, Caputo-Pearl is advocating public meetings where educators, parents and the community can ask the candidates questions and voice concerns. “We need to see how they get to engage with folks,” he said.

“The second thing that we feel strongly about is that it should be someone who has an education background, who has a history of collaboration with different stakeholders, obviously with educators but also with parents, community organizations and more,” Caputo-Pearl said.

“And the third thing we have advocated strongly about is that it not be someone out of the Eli Broad Academy,” he added, pointing out that Deasy was from that academy. “We strongly believe that the philosophy that’s used in the Broad Academy is essentially to teach people autocratic methods of leading, and that was a lot of the problem with the iPads and MiSiS. It was full stream ahead no matter what other people said even though it’s not ready, even though there are legal problems with how a bid is being done. We can’t afford that kind of autocratic hot house behavior anymore.”

Although he has had conflicts with Cortines, the UTLA chief said, “He is somebody who comes out of education who understand schools and is someone that we can talk to and try to solve problems with. But we have certainly struggled with Cortines.”

Caputo-Pearl said he plans to maintain communications with the school board as the search process continues. As for his relationship with newly-elected board president Steve Zimmer, Caputo-Pearl said he has worked with him for more than two decades on such challenges as social justice issues and immigrant rights.

“I’ve known him for a long time, and we have a good solid, communicative relationship,” he said.

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