In a word, unbelievable. Well, that’s not exactly true, since I’m talking about LAUSD, but this does feel like a new low for broken promises. In a move that should send shivers down the spine of any school that thinks it has some autonomy or decision-making ability because it has a “school-based management” or “extended school-based management” model, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has rejected the applicant for principal that the members of the Verdugo Hills High School hiring committee submitted and placed an interim principal on site.

Many of these SBM or ESBM models encourage schools to submit a list of 2-3 candidates for office and then the district makes the final decision. If I narrow the choice between spaghetti, seafood, or steak but I let someone else choose for me, chances are whatever I secretly hoped for won’t be the meal I end up with. But at least with a narrowed field, a school community can hope that their needs are heard and if their first choice isn’t available, they can go straight to the next qualified candidate rather than start the search all over again.

But Deasy has rejected two candidates the group submitted–in two separate rounds of interviews.

What is even more frustrating is this high school had floated the idea of going charter, and the district made concessions to keep them in the district’s fold. The school has a unique block schedule and at one point had the third highest CAHSEE pass rate behind El Camino and Granada Hills–two schools with decidedly different demographics. The community wants a say in who gets hired. Is that so wrong?

School Board Member Nury Martinez is siding with Deasy on this one. Good luck to her. I’ve met enough of the folks in the Sunland-Tujunga area, and aside from having a great school community, they don’t like rules changed mid-game.

The best thing that could happen at this point, is that the school goes charter and does even better with its autonomy than it has done under LAUSD. El Camino went charter and kept UTLA, so it’s not an automatic assumption that the teachers wouldn’t back a charter reform–especially after their time and effort was so casually ignored.

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