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Dr. Deasy Goes to Washington

By Ann K. Williams
Staff Writer

February 15 -- School Superintendent Dr. John E. Deasy may not be long for Santa Monica.

Widespread rumors that Deasy -- whose contract extension expires in July 2007 -- missed the last school board meeting because he was in Washington D.C. interviewing for a job seemed to be confirmed this week in The Washington Post.

Less than two weeks after beginning classes to prime him for a move up the career ladder, Deasy is already closing in on the lead for a job taking over Prince George’s County Public Schools, the second largest school district in Maryland.

“This is a remarkable opportunity,” Deasy told The Washington Post. “It’s a community that has a great base to launch from…There’s no reason in my mind why this can’t be the premier school system in Maryland.”

If he gets the job, Deasy -- who has headed the local school district for five years -- will have his work cut out for him.

Prince George’s County schools were rocked in 2002 when the state abolished their “dysfunctional” school board and appointed new officers in their place, according to a Washington Post article last April.

Last spring, the district was the focus of an FBI investigation into financial malfeasance which targeted schools chief Andre J. Hornsby. Hornsby resigned in May.

That may be why “a squeaky clean record” is at the top of the troubled district’s list of attributes it wants from a new boss.

“All of us want someone who can come in here who is highly ethical, has integrity, has proven successes,” school board member Charlene M. Dukes told The Washington Post.

Deasy assured the board that he’s “never been accused of scandal,” The Washington Post reported.

“Do your LexisNexis. Not going to find a thing. Nor should you,” Deasy said.

If chosen, Deasy will be the first non-black leader in Prince George’s district in more than ten years. Student enrollment in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood is nearly three-quarters black and nearly 14 percent Latino, according to the Prince George’s district 2005 annual report.

The district is nearly ten times larger than the Santa Monica-Malibu district, with 134,190 students enrolled and a budget of nearly $1.4 billion, the report says.

Prince George’s is offering its new chief $250,000, a jump of nearly $100,000 from Deasy’s current base salary of $154,351 as reported in the California 2003-2004 school accountability report card.

Just last week, Deasy spoke to The Lookout about his participation in the prestigious Eli Broad Academy for superintendents. (see article) The ten-month course of study is designed to infuse top leadership into low-performing, low-income large urban school districts.

Superintendents of “small urban school districts” are directed to find work heading districts listed as “Broad-eligible” upon completion of their studies. Prince George’s County is on the list.

Deasy, along with two other finalists, beat out 63 applicants for consideration for the post.

Deasy’s second three-year contract with the Santa Monica-Malibu school district expires July 1, 2007.

Prince George’s County Public Schools expects to announce its decision next week, according to local press reports.

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