The Long Shadow of John Deasy

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

- George Santayana

It has been more than two years since LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy was forced to resign in disgrace. Unfortunately, the legacy that he has left for the District’s students echoes into the present day. After spending at least $189 million on the “disastrous” MiSiS computer system, there are still reports of problems with its functionality. His $1.3 billion failed iPad program wasted scarce education dollars as the District faces bankruptcy. The culture of bullying that Deasy propagated may end up costing the District $1 billion and the opportunity for outside lawyers to rack up plenty of billable hours.

These outcomes should not have been a surprise since Deasy had “a shady history of allegedly lying about his credentials and snatching up money wherever he [could] find it”. Still, the LAUSD Board, lead by then Board President Monica Garcia, voted 6-0-1 to promote him “without so much as a job interview”. The abstention was made by Steve Zimmer who complained that the Board “didn’t have a process -- internal or external” for vetting Deasy and no other candidates were presented for his consideration. Even as teachers voted overwhelmingly that they had no confidence in the Superintendent, Garcia continued to be “Deasy’s staunchest supporter on the board” until the MiSiS crisis forced him to resign.

The campaign leading to the March LAUSD elections provides an opportunity to look at past actions and provide accountability to the voters. While the California Charter School association denies responsibility, the recent push-poll that sought reaction to the statement that “more than 200 children have been molested and abused under Steve Zimmer’s watch at the school board” sounds like something out of their playbook. If this scandal is fair game, then shouldn’t Monica Garcia answer to the same charges, especially since she was President of the Board for six years? Shouldn’t she also have to explain why she pushed Antonio Villaraigosa’s agenda as she presided over the Board, including promoting John Deasy to Superintendent? After all, we are all still paying the costs for this decision.