Sunday, October 19, 2014

LAUSafterD: Superman has left the building

4LAKids: Sunday 19•Oct•2014
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This is an issue of 4LAKids I suspect many readers have been looking forward to; I have been anticipating writing it.

It was the week that was inevitably to be.

MONDAY the Special Monitor’s report on the Special Ed Modified Consent Degree went live – and like much that is written about LAUSD of late, it was mostly about MiSiS. And it certainly wasn’t flattering. As late as Thursday senior staff were anticipating an exit from the MCD. Dream on.
"Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear"

TUESDAY had the Board meeting where the Board ran, not walked, into special session at ten AM– and stayed locked in their little room three and a half hours past the start time of the next meeting. I will write more on that later.

Then they came out and addressed the Jefferson High School debacle – which is less about MiSiS and more about a perfect-storm failure of leadership at every level ...but let’s blame it in MiSiS!

I will write more on that later.

Then the Board continued on into the rest of the next agenda (and reapproved my appointment to the Bond Oversight Committee ThankYouVeryMuch) and talked about MiSiS and approved less testing devices than the superintendent asked for and even less than the Bond Oversight Committee approved and voted against releasing the Inspector General’s investigation of the iPads procurement (I will write more on that later) and scurried back into closed session to resume talking about secret stuff into hours way past my bedtime.

A pitiful tweet from LA Times reporter Howard Blume stated “It is 10:56 pm and the school board is still meeting in closed session”.

And at 11:15 Howard tweeted: “L.A. school board fires 4 teachers & zero superintendents Tuesday night”.

AND THEN, AT 8:04 PM ON WEDNESDAY EVENING the LA School Report – usually aligned with the superintendent’s camp - leaked the Breaking News: DEASY EXPECTED TO STEP DOWN

My phone rang almost immediately: “Is it true?” (apparently two blogs in agreement passes for fact) …and within a few minutes it was somewhat confirmed and the Twitterverse and Blogosphere lit up and the superintendent-in-Korea was established to be back in town and Michelle King was-in-and-then-out-as interim supe and media availabilities and press conferences were scheduled and cancelled.

On THURSDAY MORNING All the TV Crews in the World descended on Beaudry anyway and media advisories were issued and at 10 AM everyone read it on their Smartphones at the same moment.

Deasy was gone and Cortines was back without a press conference or a photo op. Cirque du Soleil is the circus without animals; this was a media circus with only the media.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a tweet.

And life went on. Meetings were held. Classes were taught. Students learned and ate their lunch and achieved and/or underachieved as is their wont. Books were checked out of libraries. The school play was rehearsed and a new playground tetherball champion was crowned. Thursday was, in addition to the big shake up, the Great California Shake Out statewide earthquake preparedness drill and everyone from Beaudry to Broadway Elementary duck+covered. There was more relief than happy dancing. It’s theoretically easier to smile than frown …and that proved true.


You will read in the story from Sunday’s L.A. Times below of how the Board of Ed negotiated Deasy’s departure while wooing Cortines; a bit of behind the scenes Byzantine intrigue that demonstrates premeditation rather than planning. Not the way to run a twenty-first century school district but Machiavelli would be proud. (To English and Poli Sci majors who balk a mixing the Byzantine and Machiavellian metaphors I offer no apology – power politics like dry martinis are shaken, not stirred.)

Spin Dr. Deasy is not so quietly running Crisis Containment/Damage Control, not so far behind the scenes. He declares victory and retires from the field. His superintendency was “a historic period of time unlike any other”, he is “overwhelmed with pride at what his administration has accomplished”; he has magnanimously stepped aside so that ‘the work’ can be continued. Half-baked/half-digested data are regurgitated about test scores and grad rates. Apparently the recent past was the great new wonderful tomorrow we were promised. Whatever went awry was due to his urgency or the school board’s lack-of-support or the teachers union’s intransigence …or “when you direct resources solely to students, that means those resources are not available to go to adults”.

Which resources are those that went solely to students? They all didn’t get iPads, and those that did didn’t get robust instructional content. Is it the iPads that free students from poverty – or the education embedded therein? Did the students across the District get the resources promised by a new student information system? Did the students at Jefferson get resources when they couldn’t get the classes they needed? Aren’t bond funds resources? Aren’t the executives and stockholders of Apple and Pearson PLC adults?

The most important resource the District has is its people. And Dr Deasy is not a people person. When he says he cares about teachers in the classroom he truly believes he is being honest with us. Not so much so with the man in the mirror. Please excuse the pop social/political psychology: Dr. Deasy falls somewhere on the right of the Eric Hoffer True Believer leadership spectrum: Man of Words/Man of Action/Fanatic. We all get to pick where.

Urgency is the watchword and the ‘excuse me’ excuse. I’m an old guy beset by old guy worries and concerns and maladies. I watch television shows old guys watch – with commercials targeting my ilk. Urgency is not a good thing; it’s a euphemism for bladder control problems, down there on the list with ED and whatever it is the purple pill treats. Mayor Tony was big on urgency too; he could’ve benefited from a little ED.
Sandy Banks and other Deasy cheerleaders claim that “District test scores have soared….” Ms. Banks accuses Mayor Garcetti of being a “hands-off mayor content with incremental gains.” Even I wish the mayor would be more hands-on – but calling Deasy’s miniscule gains “soaring” tortures hyperbole.

The severance package is pretty severe. It’s effective immediately. It pays sixty days when only thirty would be called for if he were to be terminated - but saves Board and Superintendent the drama and embarrassment of a public vote to fire him. He must keep himself available till the end of the year to aid in transition and any “various pending and threatened litigation”. The board opines no wrongdoing, but the agreement specifies that he can never work for the District ever again: "DEASY agrees that he will not seek or accept employment or independent contractor status with the district in any capacity in the future."

“DEASY represents that he is unaware of any undisclosed District-related misconduct he has engaged in as of the date of this agreement”

…and in exchange:

“While the District’s investigation into the Common Core Technology Project has not concluded, the Board wishes to state that at this time. It does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts, and the Board anticipates that the Inspector General’s report will confirm this.”

Closing the door on what he’s best at, he’s forbidden from testifying in court representing LAUSD without permission.

This is all well and good and predictable and cognizant of a presumption of innocence – and also tells us that the previous IG’s report (which the Board in its finite wisdom has decided to keep secret) did not convince the Board of unlawful acts or ethical violations. That investigation looked into the CCTP (LAUSD/Apple/Pearson) RFP, contract and award - but DID NOT investigate the potential unethical/illegal action prior to the RFP now being investigated.

I am going to speculate (because nobody can stop me) that the Board’s stated belief that nothing unethical or illegal took place may be why the one boardmember who voted against the agreement did so.

And I am reminded of a New Yorker cartoon where the subject protests “I thought it was legal - I wrote it on a legal pad.”

When asked about future plans Dr Deasy spins+frames: "I'm not going to speak about them specifically but I would give you the general topics. One would be youth corrections," he said. "Another would be working and supporting the development of superintendents, and the third would be a consideration for political office."

Biting my tongue – or planting it firmly in my cheek – I wonder if he does more damage working with incarcerated youth or developing impressionable superintendents? A good place to start on a political career is running for school board. Does employment “in any capacity” include the Board of Education?

I am quoted in the social media as saying that I don’t believe Deasy is a bad man, but I do believe he did bad things. A friend spouts some Texas wisdom: “Even the most arrogant bastard elevates to sainthood upon their demise.” (She used words more colorful than ‘arrogant’ or ‘bastard’; I have translated from the Texan.) Deasy isn’t dead and I come neither to praise nor bury him.


By e-mail to 4LAKids from a knowledgeable school-based educator and occasional contributor

Thur., Oct 16, 2014 11:58 pm

As I read about Supt. Deasy's resignation, I have two thoughts:

The MiSiS debacle was more of a factor than the iPads.
The decision to implement MiSIS this year was negligent, and schools are a shambles do to MiSIS. Unfortunately, there's no obvious way to extricate ourselves from this mess that affects, to varying degrees, every school in LAUSD. Students will be hurt, and after multiple system failures, employees have lost all faith in LAUSD’s Information Technology Division. At a series of eight meetings (22 hours total) hosted by Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) between November, 2012 and May, 2014, Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill and other high district and ITD officials were warned repeatedly, and in compelling detail, by school site administrators and coordinators, but they chose to ignore the school-based experts who would have to use the system.

Most stories state that Supt. Deasy raised test scores, so I reviewed the data this evening.
The Deasy superintendency began in April, 2011, shortly before the CST exams were given, so 2011 seems a sensible baseline. Since the CST was not given in 2014, claims about Supt. Deasy raising test scores rest on the 2012 and 2013 CST. Attached [] is a spreadsheet that includes the 2011-2013 LAUSD and (for comparison) statewide CST ELA scores for grades 3-11, the CST Math scores for grades 3-6, and the CST Algebra 1 scores for grades 7-11. Cohort views of the ELA and Math are included so that one can see how the same (or substantially the same) group did through three years of testing. There are a few bright spots (6th grade and 10th grade English; 4th and 6th grade math; 8th grade Algebra 1), but there are no huge, across-the-board improvements. Besides, the achievement of an 8th grader on the 2013 CST is the consequence of at least nine years of schooling, only two of which were during Mr. Deasy's superintendency.◄

And even Monica Garcia’s effusive valedictory for Dr Deasy qualified his claims to improved ‘preliminary’ graduation rate(s) for ‘comprehensive’ schools. What happened to No Child Left Behind/Every Child Achieves?

ON THAT NOTE: I was sitting with senior Sacramento staff form California Dept of Ed, and the Governor’s and AG’s offices while we waited for 3½ hours for the board meeting to begin on Tuesday. After we all got acquainted and showed each other Smartphone pictures of our kids, grandkids, horses and cats - and talked about what high schools we went to (apocryphally they promote parent engagement in Connecticut by sending a car for folks to attend PTA meetings!) we discussed the LAUSD advertised goals of 100% attendance + 100% graduation that hovered over us on the big screen. The consensus was that: 1.) Goals – especially for kids - should be realistic …and as almost everyone in the boardroom was making other plans for childcare, feeding families and airplane reservations: 2.) Scheduled meetings should start on time.

Q: Is it always like this? A: Pretty much.

Yes, the Board of Ed was discussing important stuff – and yes, they were having no fun – but they would be doing those things until past 11PM (3PM the next day in Seoul) anyway. Why keep all of LAUSD’s senior staff and students and parents, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction and half the passenger load of Southwest Airlines flight #502 from LAX to SMF – and your querulous blogger – waiting?

When the proceedings finally began I was hoping Superintendent Torlakson would tear into LAUSD for our failures at Jefferson, but he didn’t. It’s a case in litigation and though LAUSD was obviously+admittedly culpable at Jefferson, the judge was watching and attorneys had scripted the response and the plaintiffs and the defendants were in the room. The outrage had already been perpetrated, the damage done and solutions agreed to …and now everyone was on their best behavior. The students made the best presentations – and a student from Dorsey made it clear to the Board and the CDE that Jefferson itself was more of a norm than an outlier.

TO BE CLEAR: Jefferson was a catastrophic failure in leadership in reacting to the MiSiS crisis. The rollout of MiSiS was not exclusively an IT problem; it was and continues to be an institutional LAUSD problem.

Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree Independent Monitor David Rostetter “Our conclusion is that this is fundamentally an organizational management problem, not a technical problem”.

The organization, such as it is, doesn’t just "get" IT.

And it was a management failure at the very top by whoever (singular or plural) made the “green light” strategic+executive decision to go ahead with the districtwide MiSiS rollout on the first day of school, driven by urgency without institutional buy-in, adequate preparation, staffing, training, systems integration, etc. Someone(s) who understood neither IT nor LAUSD. On Aug 24 Dr. Deasy said: “(IT) is not my area of expertise…” and proposed to hire a special liaison to bring him up to speed. [] Aug 21st was ten days into the MiSiS Crisis. Students would walk out of classes at Jefferson on the 25th.

THE POSITIVE THINGS Dr. Deasy accomplished he did by fiat – in what the Times calls his ‘maverick moments’ – flying solo – all by himself. He got rid of chocolate milk on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He forbade out of school suspensions for ‘willful defiance’. He imposed Breakfast in the Classroom, making a promising program really unpopular.

WELCOME BACK RAY CORTINES. You’ve been here before, you know what to do; we know who you are. We all have opinions and hopefully we all remember how to share them.

There is a lot of work to do moving forward and we look forward to doing it. Together.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

●●MORE THAN A PS: This may come as a shock, but there is far more going on in the world than LAUSD.

Here’s a question: Will all those parents who are vaccine resistant – and expose their children and all children to measles and diphtheria and pertussis, etc. – continue when the Ebola vaccine comes on line? The reason why nobody has to get immunized against small pox and polio anymore is because everybody did back in the day.


By Howard Blume, James Rainey | LA Times |

Oct 19, 2014 | 5:00 AM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District dumped a heap of trouble on its schools this fall when it rolled out a new student records system.

The breakdown was the most severe at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles. Seniors couldn't get courses they needed to graduate. Others had to sit in classes they had already passed. Hundreds waiting for a complete class schedule crammed into the school auditorium for up to three weeks.

In this moment of crisis, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy came up with a novel response, one that positioned him where he had been many times before: flying solo, beyond the control of his elected bosses on the school board, campaigning for reform on a high-profile platform.

Without the knowledge of board members, Deasy prepared a sworn statement in a court case that attacked scheduling practices in L.A. Unified and other districts, citing Jefferson as an example of what was going wrong.

Deasy's declaration irked some school board members and the judge in the court case, who wondered why Deasy didn't take charge of the problem in his own school system.

By then, Deasy's bosses on the L.A. school board had endured enough of his maverick moments. They sent their attorney on a mission to reach out to former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who had led the district before Deasy.

The talks had to remain secret because there had been past tensions between the two, and board members didn't want Deasy to know they were courting Cortines.

The lawyer posed the big question: Would the 82-year-old Cortines consider coming out of retirement?


Deasy's 3 1/2 years as head of the nation's second-largest school district ended with his resignation last week, but his path was unusual from the very outset of his tenure at L.A. Unified.

Not the product of a nationwide or local search, Deasy instead was installed as the heir apparent, taking the No. 2 job under Cortines with every expectation he would soon be in charge.

Then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had staked considerable political capital on improving low-performing schools, was among those who quietly demanded that Deasy take over. His previous post had been as a deputy director with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He'd also served as superintendent in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland.

Deasy said from the outset that he would use any means necessary — including supporting legislation and outside litigation — to pursue his vision of what would propel gains in student achievement. His sense of urgency was heightened, he said, by the poverty and low academic skills he saw in Los Angeles.
This is not about me. This is about making a statement to the community that the superintendent, whoever it is, and the board are going to make every effort to work together. - Ramon Cortines, named interim head of L.A. schools

The superintendent repeatedly proved true to his word — most notably earlier this year, when he testified in a groundbreaking court fight that stripped teachers of some key traditional job protections. He wanted to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers in the name of promoting student civil rights. Deasy had his staff devote considerable time to Vergara vs. California before he spent three days on the witness stand.

"I was the only sitting superintendent to participate in the Vergara case and there is a reason for that," Deasy said at the time. "I am taking a risk, but I feel the issue is too important to sit out."

An angry backlash from teachers proved his words prophetic. He also didn't endear himself to members of the Board of Education by proceeding without their approval. (The lawsuit succeeded at trial and is on appeal.)

Deasy's desire to be the vanguard of change also had found expression in his bid to provide iPads for every student — pledging that he would close the technology gap with the state's more privileged children.

The school board unanimously went along, with little discussion and no dissension, until problems ensued with the rollout last year and questions recently emerged about the bidding process.

Months before bidding began, for example, Deasy made a promotional video for Apple, talking about the wonders of the iPad. That endorsement and other statements and actions gave the appearance, to critics, of a single-minded rush toward one product, which troubled some board members and financial overseers. They pointed out how other districts brought technology to students at lower cost or without using school construction bonds.

Deasy insisted no wrongdoing had occurred and said he had sat out the formal bidding process. The troubled iPad initiative — with students accessing forbidden sites and officials misstating costs — enhanced a portrait of Deasy as the big-picture advocate who was too passionate, or distracted, to attend to details.

Many rank-and-file employees came to view him another way: as imperious and punitive, always demanding more from teachers and administrators even when budget cuts resulted in larger classes and fewer resources.

Nonetheless, he remained the darling of a community of philanthropists and proponents of a certain style of education reform that borrows heavily from the principles of private enterprise.

They applauded his push for a teacher evaluation system that incorporated student standardized test scores, and that he fired teachers identified as poor performers in greater numbers than before.

Deasy's path was made more difficult because he never had a solid majority on the Board of Education. His supporters tried, and failed, to elect newcomers who would give him broad latitude. Four pro-Deasy candidates lost over two election cycles, resulting in a board majority that would not unreservedly follow his lead.

Those officials also felt that Deasy ignored their directives and treated them dismissively. "It was clear that he thought he was the smartest person in the room," said one senior district official, a comment echoed by others.

And he wasn't the most patient, diplomatic or strategic leader, something that even Deasy has acknowledged.

Deasy threatened at least twice to leave the district. In the summer of 2013 the superintendent tried the tactic to prevent the elevation of Richard Vladovic to board president. The effort failed.

All the while, test scores continued to improve, as did graduation rates. By those two crucial measures, the superintendent, and students, appeared to be winning.

But for the board majority, Deasy had become an uncommunicative, ungovernable, somewhat detached leader. It didn't help that he became a target for the teachers union to rally against in its push for a better contract.

Instead of looking for ways to unite behind Deasy, board members — unhappy with their leader — began looking for reasons or justifications to push him aside.

The recent crises over technology programs — first the iPad and then the student records system — gave them a rationale they could, if necessary, defend in public.

The board had additional leverage over Deasy. His regular performance evaluation was set for next Tuesday. Anything less than a positive rating would place his reputation under a bigger cloud if he did not step aside.

For their part, board members began to see Cortines as an irresistible balm for a leadership crisis, sources said. He'd been in occasional touch since his retirement in 2011. At least three board members began to talk to him in the latter part of September, getting his advice and sounding out whether he might consider an interruption in his retirement.

Cortines initially said no. Then he said an official request would have to be made on behalf of the board.

That happened after Deasy filed his court declaration attacking L.A. Unified's scheduling practices.

Next, Cortines insisted on a unanimous vote.

"This is not about me," Cortines said in an interview. "This is about making a statement to the community that the superintendent, whoever it is, and the board are going to make every effort to work together."

Meanwhile, the board was negotiating more intensely with Deasy, who had retained an attorney.

Deasy received a few concessions, including an arrangement that keeps him on the payroll through the end of the year. The school board also agreed to a departure announcement that celebrated his accomplishments and indicated their confidence that Deasy would be exonerated of any wrongdoing related to the iPads-for-all program.

In 7 1/2 hours of closed meetings last Tuesday, the board reached its final terms with Deasy and gave Cortines a unanimous offer, which Cortines said he never expected to be possible.

"I might have had a different strategy for responding to them," he said with a laugh, "if I thought this would ever happen."


By Howard Blume | LA Times |

Oct 14,2014 | 10:12PM :: The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a $1.1-million plan to provide a longer school day, additional classes and tutoring to Jefferson High students who lost instructional time as a result of widespread scheduling problems this semester.

Officials also announced that the Los Angeles Unified School District would audit other high schools to find additional students who might have been similarly shortchanged.

The controversy with the scheduling problems at Jefferson adds another layer to the intrigue surrounding L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, whose job evaluation is scheduled for next week.

A majority of school board members have signaled to insiders that they could support the departure of Deasy, either through a resignation or buyout. Earlier this month, the board authorized its legal staff to initiate discussions over a possible departure agreement.

His contract — and preparation for his evaluation — were on the agenda Tuesday for a closed-door meeting, along with other matters.

The board remained in closed session for six and a half hours, delaying the start of a public meeting. Members made no announcement upon convening into open session for several hours. They were expected to return to closed session for additional deliberation late Tuesday evening.

Some board members and other critics have faulted the superintendent for what happened when Jefferson opened this fall.

"We have to do better at this side of the table," said board member George McKenna, referring to senior staff, and, implicitly, to Deasy.

Deasy is out of town on a previously planned trip to South Korea. Before he left, he offered a sworn declaration on behalf of students suing over conditions at Jefferson.

Some board members have criticized Deasy for getting involved without clearing it and for focusing on the lawsuit rather than on doing more to address problems at Jefferson.

Hundreds of students had incomplete or incorrect schedules. Many lost two to three weeks of instruction waiting in the auditorium, and then many were programmed into schedules that still had mistakes. The result was that students fell behind in course work they needed to graduate or to complete college preparatory requirements.

The remedy will include extending the school day by 30 minutes. In addition, teachers will be paid for up to two hours per week to provide tutoring before and after school. Counselors will be freed from lunch and playground supervision, so they can provide more counseling. And new class sections will be offered to students to replace non-academic classes. These non-academic periods include students assigned to run errands for staff or to spend time off campus unsupervised.

Officials also insisted that conditions at Jefferson had been mostly dealt with even before last week's court order.

As of Tuesday, the district identified eight students who lacked classes they needed to graduate. Forty-three other students were improperly placed in courses they'd already passed, said Tommy Chang, a senior administrator.

The scheduling flaws were not unique to Jefferson, which is south of downtown. Many campuses also dealt with major hitches caused by a new student records system that was activated before it was ready.

Board members Tuesday criticized that rollout and asked the district's inspector general to broaden a probe into what went wrong.

The technology fiasco came at a bad time for Deasy, who already was under scrutiny for a districtwide iPad program for students. The inspector general also is looking into that project, and Deasy intends to launch a new bidding process.

The scheduling challenges at Jefferson were exacerbated by administrative turnover as well as by glaring errors in the first master schedule, officials acknowledged.

With the help of advocates, Jefferson students and teachers took their complaints to court, joining a lawsuit over non-academic classes that was filed in Alameda County.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. chastised L.A. Unified for allowing problems to persist and last week ordered the state to intervene. A state delegation came to Los Angeles for meetings and praised the proposed plan Tuesday.

Advocates insisted that the fixes don't go far enough and that too many students still could be forced to waste time taking non-academic classes or courses they'd already passed.

"Content-free classes and an education are an oxymoron," said attorney Mark Rosenbaum. "The state should ban these classes tomorrow."

Some students expressed ongoing concerns in public comments to the board.

"All that lost time adds up," senior Jason Magana said. "I will leave Jefferson High School with my diploma. But so many Jefferson students don't.


From the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) Weekly Update for the week of Oct 20th |


Oct 16, 2014 :: The Board of Education reached a termination agreement with Superintendent John Deasy. The interim superintendent will be Ramon C. Cortines who starts on Monday, October 20, 2014. We welcome back Mr. Cortines and look forward to commencing AALA’s regular meetings with him.


Oct 16, 2014 :: The District’s announcement to take immediate action and fund resources at Jefferson High School needed to happen and AALA welcomes the corrective move. However, AALA wonders why the administrative team supervising Jefferson didn’t act in a more timely and effective manner.

The Jefferson news clouds another alarming report that surfaced this week from the Office of the Independent Monitor on the impact of MiSiS on students with disabilities.

The independent monitor’s report shows that major problems still exist. Key findings include:

• 98% of the 201 schools that participated in the survey reported problems with MiSiS, with 57% reporting they used alternative methods for maintaining data
• 83% reported problems with identifying students with disabilities enrolled at their school
• • 69% reported varying degrees of problems with placement for students with disabilities
• • 69% reported varying problems with services for students with disabilities
• Nearly 56% did not participate in any training
• 35% indicated inadequate training
• Interface problems continue between MiSiS and Welligent

By way of background, it was in 1993 that the Chanda Smith class action lawsuit was filed to challenge the adequacy of supports received by Chanda Smith, an LAUSD special education student. As one of its 15 outcomes, the Modified Consent Decree (MCD) requires the District to build an integrated student data system to track all of its students through all grade levels and school sites. The “new” system was to replace 26 “legacy” (aka “obsolete”) student data systems. The new system was implemented at the start of this school year despite alarms about glitches in MiSiS and the lack of readiness for the system to be effective.

On the District’s MiSiS website it says:

“The beginning of a new school year is the only feasible time to implement this type of system, as a midyear transition from a legacy to a new system would cause an intolerable level of disruptions to instruction and operations.

While public attention has focused on schoolwide scheduling and other disruptive problems, we should keep in mind that MiSiS was also intended to remedy the District’s failure to identify and track students with special needs and provide instructional services to meet their needs. As a result of that failure, Chanda Smith entered 10th grade with 2nd and 3rd grade reading and math skills. After repeating 10th grade twice, Smith’s mother took action. The 1993 lawsuit found 21 areas of noncompliance by the District that included failure to identify, assess and serve students with disabilities (SWD), meet required timelines, offer designated instructional services and track, maintain and access records.

The rush to implement the imperfect technology of MiSiS just to bring closure to the MCD instead hit schools and students with a double whammy! In retrospect, it’s been 21 years since the Chanda Smith lawsuit. Wouldn’t the District have been better off to wait just one more year to genuinely refine MiSiS instead of foisting it upon schools before it was ready? It would have saved major disruption and disservice to students, as well as hours of additional labor for school-site administrators, counselors, teachers and other school personnel.


By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News |

Posted: 10/18/14, 9:16 PM PDT | Updated: 10/19/14 :: In ousting an embattled superintendent, leaders of the nation’s second-largest school district can set aside their differences and focus instead on educating 650,000 students in Los Angeles.

While the departure of former Superintendent John Deasy marks another win in a battle to preserve traditional public schools — primarily centering on teacher tenure — now is no time to take a victory lap, said Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Unified’s school board, which has become more and more populated by union-backed members, is poised to make decisions even its most vocal opponents would support.

“This is their opportunity to show that in power, they too can be reformers,” said Sonenshein, adding that influential business and civic leaders will be watching closely when it comes to picking a new school superintendent.

In the meantime, Sonnenshein said, school board members have turned to a seasoned and politically savvy interim superintendent, Ramon Cortines, to run the district while they conduct a search for a replacement. No stranger to the district, Cortines has great “political antennae,” making him a go-to pick for districts that encounter leadership trouble.

School board member Tamar Galatzan, a frequent Deasy supporter and San Fernando Valley representative, said Cortines’ ability to handle complicated issues will come in handy.

“He has decades of experience and people skills that are legendary. That’s what we need right now,” Galatzan said.

With Cortines’ help, Galatzan said, she hopes the district and its stakeholders will be able to settle down, focus on the budget, learn the new Smarter Balance standardized testing and ensure that students obtain the education they need to attend state universities.

“That’s where all of our energy should be focused,” whether you’re a student, parent, teacher, classified employee, board member or superintendent, Galatzan said.

Board member Monica Ratliff, who is occasionally at odds with her fellow San Fernando Valley representative, also believes the school district will be served well under Cortines.

“I think the district is going to be able to move forward very successfully,” she said.

Cortines has already sought to open lines of communication with his elected bosses, Ratliff said, by sending them his calendar, which lists all of his appointments and previews his priorities for the first day of work on Monday.

“I think that transparency is going to be very helpful in terms of building consensuses and building collaboration,” Ratliff said.

The first two things on his agenda, Cortines said, will be unraveling the MiSiS computer mess and getting caught up on contract talks.

The district’s disastrous new computer software, MiSiS, continues to hamper educators, impairing their ability to perform tasks that range from taking attendance to reporting grades and generating college transcripts.

Meanwhile, talks with leaders of the 35,000-member teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, haven’t made any real progress in months. Union leadership is demanding a 10 percent pay raise this year alone and other improvements, such as smaller class sizes.

Regardless of the issue, Cortines said, he will look to the hardworking employees of LAUSD for solutions

“The district needs to use the talent at schools and the people who are there to help solve the problems,” Cortines said. “The superintendent alone cannot do it.”

The teachers union demands are part of a campaign called “Schools LA Students Deserve,” which also aims to rally members and parents in case of a strike.

“That continues and we do look forward to meeting with Mr. Cortines, as well as continuing to meet with school board members around the Schools LA Students Deserve,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
Deasy blames LA school district politics for blocking 'reforms' |



LAUSD/Deasy Separation Agreement states categorically that it is 7 pages long. Only 6 pages have been made public.|

UPDATE: TRANSCRIPT OF NPR EXIT INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DEASY :"It was a historic period of time unlike any other " |

On the day Apple unveils a new iPad Air, Time Magazine explains: HOW THE iPAD HELPED BRING DOWN L.A. SCHOOLS CHIEF |


THE DEASY DENOUEMENT: The national media [ NY Times/AP-Wash Post/EdWeek]

DEASY’S RESIGNATION LETTER: “I am overwhelmed with pride with what this administration has accomplished….” |

LAUSD/DEASY SEPARATION ACCORD “Deasy has determined to resign” meets “there is various pending+threatened litigation”

THE DEASY DENOUEMENT: Four stories from Thursday |

Teachers are "bad"/parents "uncaring"/students "failures" but John Deasy is only 'beleaguered"? It seems to be his new honorific. Like "Dr."

LAUSafterD: The LA Times reports that Cortines is back for a third try.

L.A. school board in closed session more than 5 hours so far. Several topics, including the evaluation & future of Supt. John Deasy.

INDEPENDENT MONITOR’S REPORT RE: THE SPECIAL ED MODIFIED CONSENT DEGREE ON MiSiS: "Our conclusion is that this is fundamentally an organizational management problem, not a technical problem." |

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-241.8700


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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