Finding the Balance of Power in the LAUSD

The failure of the MiSiS implementation, which contributed to what Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. ruled were “severe and pervasive educational deprivations,” is an example of how the established roles of the Board and the Superintendent are not being followed. The Board is supposed to set policy and hold the Superintendent accountable. In turn, the Superintendent is in charge of running the daily operations of the district based on the policies implemented by the Board. When a Board member openly admits, as in the case of the MiSiS disaster, that “we don’t supervise anyone who works for the superintendent”, the Superintendent is clearly not being held accountable.

 According to the Los Angeles Times, former Superintendent John Deasy “accepted the job in 2009 with the understanding that he would be able to advance his own aggressive reforms.” This was an abdication of responsibility on the part of the Board.  Additional problems are caused by the fact that the Superintendent and his senior staff are not exclusively loyal to the Board that they serve. It has been reported that, at one time, Eli “Broad partnered with [Bill] Gates and media executive Casey Wasserman... to fund some of [the] top administrative positions in Los Angeles Unified’s central office. All of the recipients of these positions make six-figure salaries.” As a Board member, I would work to ban these types of arrangements so that these staff members answer exclusively to the elected Board.

In turn, the Board must also avoid micro-managing the Superintendent. The policies that they set must be broad enough so that they can be implemented in each individual school. A good example is the recent vote to include an ethnic studies class to the graduation requirement. Through this vote, the Board made it clear what they wanted the outcome to be, but allowed the Superintendent to study what the best way would be to implement it. This is how the relationship is supposed to work. The Superintendent must now report his findings and actions to the Board and the Board needs to make sure that the Superintendent meets their directives.