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LAUSD Superintendent Deasy given satisfactory review, contract renewed

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Despite reports that LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy may leave office, he was given a satisfactory performance review Tuesday and his contract was renewed.

Read what happened at the meeting with tweets from KPCC's Annie Gilbertson and Adolfo Guzman-Lopez:


Previously: A superintendent’s review is usually routine: board members check in on goals such as raising test scores and increasing graduation rates.

But a public uproar has turned Superintendent John Deasy’s review on Tuesday into a political referendum.

The upswing in interest began late last week, when local media reported Deasy had told some board members he is considering stepping down in February.

Deasy responded by saying he hadn't formally resigned — but declined to speak about his intentions — until after Tuesday's review.

That sent shock waves through the city, with leaders and various groups weighing in publicly. There have been newspaper editorials; a group of business leaders signed a letter in support of Deasy; a group of parents are leading a letter writing campaign against him and a group of nonprofits is holding a rally at 10:30 a.m. for or against Deasy.

Board member Steve Zimmer said any thought that the board was planning to oust the leader are “pure fiction."

“I believe that the majority of the board of education wants to continue to work with John Deasy,” he said.

It's certainly a challenging time to run the nation's second-largest school district, said David Menefee-Libey, a professor of Politics at Pomona College — in particular for Deasy, who has been at odds with new board president Richard Vladovic.

“I think since the change in the leadership of the school board, it is not that surprising that there would be an ultimate competition between Vladovic and Deasy,” Menefee-Libey said.

While Deasy has not publicly complained of the board's leadership, his hand-picked head of instruction gave notice of his resignation a little over a month ago, complaining that board micromanaging was making it impossible to complete crucial projects.

Complaints have gone both ways. In public meetings, some board members have protested that the administration withholds information.

Certainly Deasy is working under a board that is politically different from the one that hired him — if subtly so. It has moved from a majority believing in pro-"reform" policies — such as school choice and using test scores to evaluate teachers — to a much more mixed board.

There’s a lot on the line. The district is in the midst of a transition to new learning standards — and then there’s Deasy’s plan to give each student and teacher an iPad.

For the first time in years, the district is seeing a growing budget, in part because of a new state funding scheme that gives a boost to schools with  underprivileged populations, such as English learners and foster children.

“Make no mistake: his resignation would be a devastating loss for the 600,000-plus students at LAUSD schools,” supporters in the non-profit sector wrote in a letter submitted to KPCC by United Way. “Under Superintendent Deasy’s leadership, our schools have made remarkable gains, particularly among poor children and children of color.”

The other side has its own points to make.

“But what he has done is cut art, music, libraries, P.E., safety, clean campuses and more,” said Paige Schechtman in an e-blast to other Hollywood parents. “He has increased class size, forced more and more testing on our children as if they are lab rats in his grand experiment and cares only about his agenda to privatize the LAUSD.”