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Deasy gets authority over approving outside control of schools

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy received broad authority Tuesday to renew or end agreements by which two outside organizations run traditional public schools, including a group of schools under the control of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The Board of Education approved giving Deasy the new authority when it approved extensions of agreements with the mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and L.A.'s Promise.

The teachers union and two school board members called for a delay, seeking a more extensive review of the schools’ performance.

The original five-year contracts were scheduled to expire at the end of the current academic year. The groups now can go forward for up to five years. But the renewal does not guarantee that any individual school will remain under outside control. Under the terms, schools will be evaluated individually; a low-performing campus could still be reabsorbed under direct district control.

The mayor’s schools enjoyed a strong year of progress overall, but some of his schools have done much better than others over five years. The higher performers include Ritter Elementary and 99th Street Elementary. Little or no cumulative progress has been made on test scores at Gompers Middle School and Roosevelt High School.

The union was especially concerned about a lack of input into the new agreements—both from the union itself and from teachers at the affected schools.

When the partnerships started, teachers had a greater role. They had the power to vote the school into a partnership or veto it. Later, teachers, parents and others were able to cast non-binding votes about which partners they preferred for a school, with the school board then making the final decision.

Under the new agreement, the renewal process belongs to the superintendent, based on parameters applied by his appointed reviewers.

The mayor’s partnership manages 15 campuses with some 15,000 students.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the more controversial renewal was for L.A.’s Promise, which manages three schools. A teacher praised the turnaround at Muir Middle School, but speakers were divided about progress at West Adams Preparatory High School and Manual Arts High School.

The vote occurred on the same day as the annual star-studded fundraising gala for L.A.’s Promise, which this year featured a performance at LA Live by magician David Copperfield.


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