Letter of Resignation from Superintendent John E. Deasy

October 15, 2014

Dear Board Members,

I am overwhelmed with pride in what this administration has accomplished for the youth of Los Angeles over the last 4 plus years. Every day we have remained focused on our mission, about which we are crystal clear: we lift youth out of poverty. The only sure way to accomplish this is for every student to graduate college and career ready. By every single measure of our work, the youth have a significantly better education today than they did more than 4 years ago. Measures of achievement, access, outcomes, agency, climate, and success are all substantially better than when we started this work. Graduation rates, achievement rates in math and English language arts, reclassification rates, AP course takers, safety, suspension, attendance, and so many others clearly point to a better life for students in our care.

These and many other indicators are a result of very hard work. Your administration and staff have worked ceaselessly to ensure a better outcome for youth. We have dramatically increased choice for students in our magnet programs, zones of choice, and opportunity choice settings. We have recommended and authorized thousands of seats in high performing charters. We have finalized the building program and have launched the renovation program. We have provided for unlimited autonomy for teachers in schools who wish to exercise their right to be a pilot school with no cap on this process. We have watched API scores rise, and suspensions plummet. Our reorganization into the ESC and especially the work of ISIC has been instrumental in improvement in our chronically underperforming schools and in expanding innovation and autonomy in our choice schools. We have implemented a state of the art and responsible performance appraisal system for teachers and administrators. We have secured a waiver from NCLB and put in place a balanced accountability system and reclaimed back millions of dollars to invest in LAUSD. This allowed for last year's hugely successful and largest summer school program in 6 years. We have assured that no single student goes hungry before they start their school day or leave us hungry before they return home. We have led the nation in eliminating practices that criminalize youth or push them out. The implementation of the student climate bill of rights, the implementation of the restorative justice practices, the elimination of the use of willful defiance to suspend youth, and the elimination of the use of citations for low level infractions have all contributed to a healthier, safer, and more respectful environment for youth to learn and thrive.

We have led the way in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The work of our teachers is nothing short of extraordinary in developing and implementing this ground breaking shift in instructional practices and expectations for students. The same is true for the implementation of the English Language Learner Master Plan. We have begun to put technology in the hands of youth who so justly deserve to have what youth in privileged areas have every day.

I look forward to the Inspector General completing his current review of the Common Core Technology Project, and look forward to his conclusion and findings that will determine that there were no missteps on my part in the process whatsoever. Furthermore, I hope the board moves at twice the pace with the technology project as the youth are counting on you. We have undertaken the ground breaking work of investing in schools at levels not seen since 2008 through an equity formula. We can proudly say that students who have the least now receive the most help, while not taking away from others.

We have dramatically changed practices in clear and definitive ways to keep our students safe and respond to incidents where students are in danger because of misconduct of an employee. We have attempted to change laws that made keeping students safe compromised and onerous. And we have led the way in helping refugee youth and homeless and youth in foster care. We have also done the same for our employees. We have given raises for the first time in seven years to all who accepted them, have maintained health benefits at no cost to employees, and have brought back some 3,000 jobs to LAUSD to serve youth. We have provided for the highest minimum wage in America for our employees so that we can help lift LAUSD working parents, as well as their children, out of poverty.

While there are so many more things I could remind us of, this does capture a period of time when we moved quickly and definitively to help the hundreds of thousands of youth in our care. Needless to say this has been hard work, in fact exhausting work. I have neglected my family, my health, and my parent's heath. We all carry the ball for a while, and then give it to others to continue. I have had this amazing opportunity and privilege. I am proud and honored, but it is time for a transition.

Our District is in good shape, fiscally, educationally, and in serving the many needs of our youth. I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to have served the amazing youth of Los Angeles. And I will now take time to think of how I will continue to serve them and advance their rights. So accordingly, I will transition from this job to another way to serve. In allowing me to do that, I hereby submit my resignation. I will work with your council to close out my employment contract.

In closing, let me thank my critics, for they have helped us see where we can do our work better, and that is what we do with each opportunity to improve. I also wish to thank my supporters. You have enabled us to move quickly to right wrongs in the lives of youth, but please do not be satisfied, there is so much more we need to accomplish.

With warm regards,

John E. Deasy, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Los Angeles Unified School District