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Report: Part-time, fractured LA school board unacceptable (updated)

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Update 6:54 p.m.

Los Angeles Unified School board members are taking issue with a report that suggests one way to improve district schools is to give the mayor control.

"The implication is that there's much success in other places and the evidence to that just doesn't exist," board member Steve Zimmer said. "We have mayoral control in New York and Chicago, and they are still struggling."

Board member Monica Ratliff issued a statement: “I firmly believe school board members, like city council members and sheriffs, should be elected by the people.”

Sarah Bradshaw, chief of staff for Los Angeles Unified School Board member Bennett Kayser, also took issue with the Los Angeles 2020 Commission's report criticizing the part-time status of the L.A. unified board and its duels with school administrators. 

“Our test scores have been climbing since the early 2000s,” she said. “To have this commission drag us down the road of mayoral takeover again... We wasted millions and millions of dollars trying to fend off an unconstitutional takeover by the city of Los Angeles.”

RELATED: 2020 Commission issues direct, blunt challenges to City of LA

Antonio Villaraigosa had sought control of L.A. schools when he was mayor, but his efforts were blocked by a lawsuit.

Later, he forged a deal with a friendly school board which allowed him to take over some of the city's worst-performing schools with promises to turn them around. The schools would officially be run by a non-profit Villaraigosa created, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, and funded with a $50 million commitment from real estate developers Richard and Melanie Lundquist.

The commission was established last year by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, and endorsed by Villaraigosa to study the fiscal stability of the city.

The report points to L.A. Unified's struggles with academic achievement and graduation rates, stating that better public education will bring about more jobs and investments.

Previously: The Los Angeles 2020 Commission is criticizing the part-time status of the Los Angeles Unified school board.  In its report released Wednesday, the commission called the current approach "unacceptable."

"LAUSD’s current governance structure is prone to crisis, turnover and inconsistency; and provides little accountability," states the report.

The authors championed the work of L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy as "progress," focusing their critique on the school board. The board has at times pushed against Deasy's recommendations of reform, including using students' test scores to evaluate teachers and expanding charter schools.

"Cities in other regions across the country have either moved to mayoral control or clarified and strengthened the role of the Board and improved their Board’s working relationship with school administrators to try and establish accountability," the report states.

Neither Deasy nor the school board members were immediately available for comment Wednesday morning.