KOREATOWN (CBSLA.com) — A high-powered Los Angeles attorney and civic leader has urged the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education to keep embattled Superintendent John Deasy on the job.
George Kieffer sent a letter to the seven-member board stating that Deasy, who reportedly is ready to resign, should stay for the sake of the students.
"Firing Superintendent Deasy, or making his life so miserable that he has no choice to leave, is not in the best interest of the students of Los Angeles," Kieffer's letter says. "We urge you to pull the board together and make every effort to retain one of the top superintendents in the country."
"Graduation rates have gone up, truancy rates have gone down, so that's critical for the kids," Kieffer told KCAL9's Dave Bryan. "The guy works 24 hours a day. He's totally committed to what he's doing here. He set very high standards for himself and the board set very high standards for itself. They've achieved a lot, and I think together, they can achieve more."
Kieffer's letter was signed by 19 other civic leaders, including former Police Commission President John Mack; Monica Lozano, the publisher and CEO of La Opinion; and Gary Toebben, the president and CEO of the LA Area Chamber of Commerce.
"These are critical constituencies in the community that have weighed in in favor of John Deasy, along with the mayor and Arne Duncan. He's got a lot of support," Kieffer said.
Warren Fletcher, the president of the United Teachers Los Angeles, cites low teacher morale, poor budget decisions and the troubled iPad program when evaluating Deasy's performance.
"What we have seen is a truly half-baked plan that seems more intent on spending money than in getting it right. We don't want to see a situation where the $800 iPad is the educational equivalent of the $500 toilet seat from the 1980s when we had all of those defense contracting scandals," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he has a respectful working relationship with Deasy, but the superintendent's view of what the LAUSD classroom should be is out of sync with what teachers and many parents want.
"Dr. Deasy has brought a different view of how schools operate and it has been, on the whole, destructive to teacher morale and it has had the effect of narrowing the curriculum in school after school," he said.
The Board of Education will meet Tuesday in a closed session to evaluate Deasy's performance.
for more features.