Tag Archives: Los Angeles Unified School District

John Deasy’s business dinners

lat-deasyhp-la0020338202-20140826 (1)former L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy

Zahira Torres and Howard Blume wrote a blockbuster assessment of John Deasy’s tumultuous tenure as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Being good reporters, they bent over backwards to tell this sordid tale without rendering judgment. But the facts they present are damning. They were largely gathered from Deasy’s travel and expense records, which the reporters obtained by a Freedom of Information request.

1. He had a heavy travel schedule, which took him away from the district for 200 days. His travels interfered with his responsibilities.

“At key moments of tumult in the district, the records show, Deasy was simply not in town….

“The beginning of the end came a year ago, just before the school year started. Deasy was in New York to discuss challenges threatening education reform.

“Back at home, the city’s public schools were in disarray. By the time Deasy returned for the first day of classes, a malfunctioning scheduling system had forced students into gyms and auditoriums to await assignments. Some of them ended up in the wrong courses, putting their path to graduation in jeopardy.

“Two months later, in October, a Superior Court judge ordered state education officials to meet with Deasy to fix the scheduling problems that he said deprived students of their right to an education. But Deasy flew to South Korea the next morning to visit schools and meet government officials. A week later, he resigned, under pressure, as head of the nation’s second-largest school system.”

2. He spent lavishly on travel and meals; foundations with their own agenda subsidized his expenses.

“Deasy, who was paid $350,000 a year as superintendent, took more than 100 trips, spent generously on meals as he lobbied state and national lawmakers and wooed unions, foundations and educational leaders, according to credit card receipts, calendars and emails obtained under the California Public Records Act.

“Deasy spent about $167,000 on airfare, hotels, meals and entertainment during his tenure; half paid by philanthropists and foundations, and the other half by the district. Private foundations often make contributions to school districts, and the LAUSD’s position is that those funds can be used for the superintendent’s expenses.

“Among the philanthropists who subsidized his expenses, according to district records, were entertainment executive Casey Wasserman and Eli Broad, both of whom support education causes through their foundations.

“Deasy attended conferences and held meetings in cities including Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. The tab for an evening with teachers union officers at Drago Centro in Los Angeles ran to more than $1,000. During a one-night stay at the Four Seasons hotel in New York, for which he spent $900, he met, among others, Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and president of the Emerson Collective, which awards grants and invests in education initiatives.”

3. Deasy was hired without a national search. “Influential philanthropists” and then-Mayor Villaraigosa selected Deasy. We may safely assume that Eli Broadwas one of those influential philanthropists.

4. Deasy’s pals in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and those “influential philanthropists” poured millions into school board elections to defeat Deasy critics and elect Deasy allies.

“Groups with ties to Silicon Valley and Wall Street have played growing roles in the education reform movement by donating to school board candidates. The Emerson Collective, along with Broad and others, put hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns for board members who supported Deasy’s goals.”

5. Despite his large salary, Deasy asked his powerful friends to pay for some of his expenses. Here is one example, that a tuay sounds humiliating to Deasy, who extends a begging bowl to Eli Broad.

“Some board members said they also worried that by requesting and accepting reimbursement for travel from Wasserman, Broad and others who supported his reform efforts, Deasy was creating the perception that he might give a special hearing to those donors.

“In an email, for example, Deasy sought a “scholarship” from Broad to attend a dinner in New York honoring two education leaders who shared his vision for turning around troubled school districts.

“Would Eli support my attendance at an event?” Deasy wrote in October 2011 to Gregory McGinity, a senior official with the Broad Foundation. “I do not have such means to buy the ticket myself…. Do you think he would ‘scholarship’ me?”

“The Broad Foundation reimbursed the district $1,400 for Deasy’s airfare and hotel. A board member of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank hosting the event, covered the superintendent’s $1,500 ticket for the dinner, according to the email.”

6. Deasy’s iPad fiasco was a disaster that is now being investigated by the FBI.

“Deasy’s signature effort to provide iPads to all students failed, and the cost of untangling the troubled student records system has now topped $200 million.”

7. Deasy had to go not only because of the iPad mess and the disaster with the district’s computer programming, but because he testified for the plaintiffs when LAUSD was sued in the Vergara case, instead of testifying for the district he led.

“Board President Steve Zimmer said Deasy’s confrontational approach reached a breaking point for him when the superintendent became a star witness for the plaintiffs in Vergara vs. California.

“That case, now on appeal, was heralded by national school reformers for making it easier to fire teachers and ending the current practice of layoffs based on seniority. It angered teachers who believed that they were under constant attack from the superintendent, who did not consult the board about the litigation.

“Once he chose to do what he did in the way that he did it, I knew I could no longer support his superintendency,” Zimmer said. “There was no reason he had to be on that stand.”

And where does Deasy work now? For Eli Broad, training school district leaders based on his own experience as a leader of the reform movement.

The following are excerpts from the superintendent’s expense account:

Donors and the L.A. Unified School District paid about $167,000 to cover travel and meals, usually at high-end restaurants here and elsewhere, for former L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, related to his local and national education agenda. Here are some examples:

Date: Jan. 8, 2013

Place: Craft, Los Angeles

Cost: $248.37

Purpose: Dinner with Newark schools Supt. Cami Anderson, an ideological ally, and two others.

Date: June 19, 2013

After John Deasy, LAUSD faces a tough choice: Play it safe or take another risk?
After John Deasy, LAUSD faces a tough choice: Play it safe or take another risk?
Place: Piccolo Ristorante, Venice, Calif.

Cost: $227.91

Purpose: Dinner with Pearson executives Sherry King and Judy Codding, the day after approval of iPads-for-all contract that included Pearson as curriculum provider.

Date: Oct. 22, 2013

Place: Drago Centro, Los Angeles

Cost: $1,014.45

Purpose: Dinner with midlevel teachers union leaders; Deasy wasn’t speaking to then-union president Warren Fletcher at the time.

Date: Dec. 9, 2013

Place: Bouchon Bistro, Beverly Hills

Cost: $183.60

Purpose: Dinner with board members Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia.

Date: June 18, 2014

Place: Water Grill, Los Angeles

Cost: $221.84

Purpose: Dinner with Tommy Chang and Donna Muncey, two senior staff members.

Date: July 23, 2014

Place: Vincenti Ristorante, Brentwood

Cost: $311.96

Purpose: Dinner with philanthropist Megan Chernin, head of L.A. Fund for Public Education, and fund manager Melissa Infusino.

Source: L.A. Unified records and interviews.

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L.A. Unified releases audit of charter school with ties to candidate.

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L.A. Unified Board of Education candidate Ref Rodriguez. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

An audit of a charter school with ties to a Board of Education candidate found fault with the school’s financial operations and the way it maintained employee records and other documents.

The audit was released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Unified School District in response to a Public Records Act request by The Times and other media outlets.

The school, Lakeview Charter Academy, is part of PUC Schools, which was co-founded by board candidate Ref Rodriguez. Rodriguez currently serves on the board of directors and in a part-time capacity as treasurer of the corporate arm of the organization.

The audit did not reveal problems that could result in the Lake View Terrace school being shut down. But it found some issues that L.A. Unified wants remedied.

“We appreciated the opportunity to work with the district and are grateful for the inputs that have helped us improve our practices, even though we disagree with some of the points that were made,” said Jacqueline Elliot, chief executive of PUC schools.

The Times reported Tuesday that the audit’s public release had been withheld at the request of a school board member. District sources said the delay came at the behest of school board member Monica Garcia, a political ally of Rodriguez.

L.A. Unified General Counsel David Holmquist confirmed that a board member requested the delay, but would not specify which one.

Garcia did not respond to requests for comment through her staff and email.

In an interview, Holmquist said that under the California Public Records Act, the audit was a public document that would have to be released if requested. The district decided to release it after confirming that PUC had received the final version of the report, he said.

>>> Read more

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Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy

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John Deasy, former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, is joining a training academy funded by philanthropist Eli Broad, Deasy’s long-time supporter.

Deasy resigned from LAUSD in October after issues with technology projects and growing tension with the school board. He remained on the district’s payroll until the end of December.

In his new position at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, Deasy will serve as a consultant and superintendent-in-residence for the Broad Academy, the center’s training and coaching program for urban public education leaders, according to a center news release.

>>> Read more 

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Before LAUSD travel ban, former superintendent flew 100k miles last year

on private foundation’s dime

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Dr. John Deasy.

Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy traveled more than 100,000 miles last school year, equivalent to circling the globe four times, according to a KPCC analysis of credit card records.

Before he stepped down, Deasy charged more than 30 business trips to his district-issued American Express card over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, traveling to New York and Washington, D.C., at least five times each.

LAUSD’s contract with Deasy, who remains on the payroll as an administrator until the end of the year, states the district is responsible for his expenses. But theWasserman Foundation,  a private family foundation headed by Casey Wasserman, ultimately covers the tab, district officials confirmed.

Deasy continued to travel on district business after he announced his resignation Oct. 16. His decision to step down followed a string of problems with the rollout of key technology projects and growing tension with school board members.

Read more >>> Deasy News. 

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(Click on the above image to enlarge it. Map by KPCC’s news clerk Daniella Segura.)

KPCC obtained two years’ worth of Deasy’s credit card expenses, beginning on June 30, 2012 and extending through the end of June 2014, the close of the district’s fiscal year.

The records show Deasy charged flights, hotel rooms, meals and ground transportation costs for visits to Aspen, Austin, Birmingham and Boston, among other locations. In all, Deasy logged more than 100,000 miles in the air, according to KPCC analysis of flight purchases.

To get a better idea of Deasy’s monthly expenses, KPCC examined charges in August 2013, during which Deasy bought tickets to Washington, D.C., New York, Pittsburgh and Albuquerque.

His local restaurant bills reached $630 for the month with per meal prices ranging from $25 to $250 at Fleming’s Steakhouse. Fleming’s tasting menu starts at $45 per person.

His expenses for the month neared $4,800, including $1,340 for a three-night stay at the W in D.C., which Travel Advisor lists as a luxury hotel.

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Breaking News: FBI Raids LAUSD Offices for iPad Files

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Dr. John Deasy former PGCPS Super involved in the endless saga in Los Angeles after he left Prince George’s County.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — FBI agents seized 20 boxes of documents related to Los Angeles Unified School District’s beleaguered $1 billion iPad project, officials confirmed Tuesday. Agents confiscated documents at the district’s offices Monday regarding procurement practices involving the Common Core Technology project, LAUSD’s plan to equip all schools with 21st century learning devices.

The FBI confirmed an investigation into the district, but would not provide any further information, citing the ongoing probe. “The L.A Unified School District will offer its full cooperation to federal authorities during the course of the investigation,” Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement. The FBI action was first reported by The Los Angeles Times. The initiative to provide all 650,000 students in the nation’s second largest school district with iPads has been plagued with problems from the start. Hundreds of students initially given the iPads last school year found ways to bypass security installations, downloading games and freely surfing the Web.

Teachers complained they were not properly trained to instruct students with the new technology. And questions were raised after emails were disclosed showing that then-Superintendent John Deasy had been in communication with vendors Apple and Pearson before the contracts were put to bid. “The idea of providing first-class learning technology to all the kids in the district, not just the kids who could afford it, is certainly a worthy educational goal,” said Charles Taylor Kerchner, a professor at Claremont Graduate University. “That worthy goal runs up against problems of organizational feasibility, and it did from the beginning.”

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