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State appointed administrator of Inglewood school district steps down

December 7, 2012 |  5:20 pm

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Kent Taylor, the state administrator in charge of the financially troubled Inglewood School District, resigned from the position Friday after the Department of Education learned of a tentative agreement he made with the local teachers union without approval from the state.

Taylor’s resignation comes months after he was appointed by State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to lead the district — which was taken over by the state in September when Gov. Jerry Brown approved legislation granting $55 million in emergency loans to help the roughly 14,000-student district.

Torlakson has appointed La Tanya Kirk-Carter, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, as interim state administrator for the district.

“This change is in the best interests of taxpayers, students and employees of the Inglewood Unified School District,” Torlakson said in a statement. “I’m confident that our work to address the district’s troubled finances will proceed without interruption.”

The resignation came after the education department learned of a proposed collective bargaining offer between the district and the Inglewood Teachers Assn.

Due to his position as state administrator, Taylor did not have the authority to enter  into a labor contract without prior approval by Torlakson or a designee or before the completion of a financial review and plan to bring the district back to solid fiscal health.

In a letter, the department informed the teachers union that the agreement was voided.

Taylor could not be reached for comment.

Peter Somberg, president of the Inglewood Teachers Assn., said that the agreements were negotiated in good faith and that union officials were under the impression that Taylor had the authority to enter into them. Prior to beginning the bargaining process, union officials asked Taylor several times if he did in fact have the authority to do so. He assured the union that he did, Somberg said.

When Taylor was appointed, Somberg added, there was no indication from the state and Torlakson that Taylor did not have that power.

“There was nothing ever mentioned that he didn’t have authority to negotiate with us,” Somberg said.

The community embraced Taylor, and his rapport with teachers and others in Inglewood was appreciated, he said.

“There was —  and hopefully there will continue to be —  a palpable atmosphere of hope among all the stakeholders in this community,” he said.  “To grow enrollment, grow opportunities  for all of us, all our kids.”

Prior to taking over at Inglewood, Taylor was the superintendent in southern Kern County and worked as a teacher, principal, administrator and school board member in several Southern California districts, mostly in the San Bernardino area.

Taylor grew up in Inglewood and graduated from Inglewood High in 1982.

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--Stephen Ceasar

Photo: Kent Taylor visits Inglewood High School. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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