Admiral-turned-school boss gets boot in L.A.

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Dec 10, 2008 11:59:25 EST

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles school board voted Tuesday to buy out the final two years of its contract with the embattled district superintendent.

David L. Brewer III, who came under fire by critics who called him an ineffective figurehead, will receive a severance package estimated to be worth about $500,000. He said he would serve until the end of the year.

“No matter what happens next, I will always root for the children, teachers, and staff of LAUSD,” he said in a statement.

The former Navy admiral had no experience as an educator before joining the nation’s second-largest school district two years ago. He initially refused to step down and recently hinted that racism was behind the rising criticism of his leadership. Brewer is black.

At a press conference on Monday, Brewer did not offer specifics on his allegations but said discrimination during his Navy career gave him the experience to recognize it.

“I know what it looks like, smells like and the consequences,” said Brewer, who read from a statement and did not take questions.

A.J. Duffy, president of the teachers’ union United Teachers Los Angeles, said he did not believe race played a part in the board’s 5-2 vote to buy out Brewer’s contract. The union chief was not happy with the board having to pay such a hefty amount but said it was time for Brewer to step aside.

“Would it be better to keep him around for another two years?” Duffy said. “Absolutely not.”

Brewer is entitled to 18 months of severance under the terms of his contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District. He earns $300,000 a year plus a $3,000-a-month housing allowance and an annual expense account of $45,000.

Board of Education President Monica Garcia mounted an effort last week to oust Brewer. The superintendent’s supporters have said he is being unfairly targeted for problems he can’t control, including state budget cuts to public education.

Citing his accomplishments, Brewer has said his two-year service resulted in increased student test scores, the largest class of high school seniors the district has had since 1979 and gang-prevention programs that have been introduced into the schools.

Ramon C. Cortines, a senior deputy superintendent hired by Brewer in April to oversee the district’s day-to-day operations and instruction, is expected to take over. Cortines, 76, served as LAUSD’s superintendent in 2000 and previously headed school districts in New York and San Francisco.

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