Although billionaire Eli Broad’s candidates lost the last two school board elections, he will still maintain his grip over the Los Angeles school system. The newly elected Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the selection of a Broad-trained educator as his education advisor.

Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana was a classmate of Superintendent John Deasy in the class of 2006 in the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy.

“The Melendez appointment comes two months after she retired as superintendent of Santa Ana Unified, the largest district in Orange County, with more than 57,000 students. In a letter announcing her retirement, Melendez noted that she’d been instrumental in creating key performance indicators for the district and improving parent engagement.

“According to published reports, however, the two years that Melendez spent at the district were marred by conflict with the Santa Ana teachers union and by turmoil at a middle school caused by students running amok.

“In May, she was one of five finalists for the job of Pasadena Unified superintendent, but withdrew from consideration before a scheduled interview with the district’s school board.”

More about her background:

“From 2009-11, she served as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education under U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. That position followed three years spent as schools chief of Pomona Unified, where she also worked as deputy superintendent and chief academic officer from 1999-2005. She was named 2009 Superintendent of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators.”

In an unusual arrangement, the city will pay her salary while the schools pay her benefits. This is intended to build up her state pension.