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Home / News / Education / LAUSD superintendent stepping down on June 30

LAUSD superintendent stepping down on June 30

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Board of Education has had multiple closed-door discussions regarding superintendent’s employment in recent weeks

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner will step down when his contract expires June 30, he announced today in a letter to the district’s Board of Education.

In the letter, Beutner asked the board to allow his contract to expire “as planned,” saying that a “new superintendent should have the privilege of welcoming students back to school in the fall.”

Beutner has been LAUSD’s superintendent since May 2018. He suggested that the board could quickly find a replacement from within.

“I will remain focused on the task of ensuring that schools reopen in the safest way possible while helping in a seamless leadership transition,” he wrote. “I believe the next superintendent of Los Angeles Unified can be found amongst the current team and she or he will be well placed to continue the progress at this critical time. The leadership ranks of Los Angeles Unified have never been stronger and I know you share my gratitude for the commitment of the women and men who answer the call to serve in public education.”

Beutner’s departure caps the most tumultuous year in the district’s history, with all campuses forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all classes turning on a dime from in-person to online. Beutner also shepherded the district through a teachers’ strike in 2019.

“The past three years have presented LA Unified with unprecedented challenges,” he wrote. “I’m proud to say we’ve risen to the occasion and grateful to have worked alongside so many who are deeply committed to helping children. It has been my privilege to contribute to work that reinforces one of the greatest achievements in human history: a free public education for every child. Education creates a path out of poverty for many of the children we serve and the promise of greater opportunity for all students.

“Education is fundamentally about what’s next. And I am optimistic about what’s next for students and their schools in Los Angeles Unified. All of us have a duty to contribute what we can in the time we have — to ensure that those who follow have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.”

The Board of Education has had multiple closed-door discussions regarding Beutner’s employment in recent weeks, given the pending expiration of his contract.

Beutner, 61, has been a lightning rod for criticism since he was hired. A businessman and investment banker by trade, he had no experience in the educational field when he took the job. His hiring was lambasted by the United Teachers Los Angeles union, which said he had a history of making money by consolidating businesses and laying off workers.

Even some LAUSD board members objected, including Scott Schmerelson, who said Beutner “has never taught in a public school, never managed a public school, has no instructional background and has never worked for a school district of any size.”

And yet, Beutner, who served as a Los Angeles deputy mayor under Antonio Villaraigosa, was hired anyway, with proponents saying he had the business acumen to lead a district facing financial woes and severe underfunding.

Beutner served for about a year in Villaraigosa’s administration, filling in at one point as interim director of the Department of Water and Power.

He ran for mayor in 2012 when Villaraigosa termed out, but his campaign never caught on and he dropped out early.

In 2014, Beutner co-chaired the 2020 Commission, which made recommendations for the future of Los Angeles. He then became publisher and chief executive of the Los Angeles Times but was fired after a year over disagreements about the newspaper’s direction.

He served on the LA Unified Advisory Task Force created under then-Superintendent Michelle King to help meet goals in the district’s strategic plan and `”to foster a culture of change in which we identify opportunities and embrace solutions to close the achievement gap.”

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