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LAUSD Board Honors Departing Superintendent Austin Beutner

A picture of Austin Beutner, the departing superintendent of LAUSD, sitting a blue metal table in a school
L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner.
(Chava Sanchez
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Los Angeles Unified school board members gave a warm sendoff to the district’s departing superintendent, Austin Beutner, during his final board meeting Tuesday morning.

As the superintendent prepares to step down after three years leading the nation’s second-largest school system, even some of Beutner’s former critics offered words of praise.

“We didn’t start out well,” said board member Jackie Goldberg, who vocally denounced Beutner’s hire in 2018.

“But I’ve changed my mind completely,” Goldberg added. “You were the right man, at the right time, for the right job, and you did it with such energy, indefatigable energy.”

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During the 2019 strike, Beutner often sparred with the district’s teachers union. More recently, he’s faced criticism for siding with the union too often during the pandemic; criticism from parents who hoped to see more live minutes of distance learning instruction or for LAUSD to reopen campuses sooner. Beutner has said the caution was necessary to keep students and staff safe.

The superintendent said he believes the massive school district is headed in the right direction.

“We have 86,000 [employees],” Beutner said. “I’ll be gone tomorrow; there will still be 85,999 still working on behalf of children. If each of them believes they can make a difference in the life of a child, it’s going to get better.”

Beutner has said he’s not resigning to run for office right now, though he’s also hinted he’s not done in public life.

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The school board has hired Megan Reilly — a current deputy superintendent and longtime LAUSD financial administrator — to serve as interim after Beutner’s departure. She’ll officially take over on July 1.

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).