The Los Angeles Unified School District hired billionaire banker Austin Beutner as its next superintendent of schools at a meeting on April 20 and kept the decision secret until May 1.

The vote to hire Beutner was 4-3.

Board member Scott Schmerelson, a retired educator, voted no and issued this angry statement. 

Beutner was briefly publisher of the Los Angeles Times. He is close to billionaire Eli Broad. His investment company Evercore purchased American Media Inc., parent company of the National Enquirer, the supermarket tabloid. Beutner was a member of AMI’s board of directors. Ironically, his father was a top executive in Amway, the DeVos company in Michigan, where Beutner was born.

Schmerelson wrote an apology to the parents and educators who had been writing and emailing to express their views, not knowing that a decision was already made.

He wrote:

”I do not believe that Austin Beutner, who has absolutely no experience in the field of public education, is qualified to manage the largest school district in the nation with an elected Board. He 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. The Board majority refused to exercise due diligence regarding Mr. Beutner’s lengthy and tangled business affairs including the disputed delivery of services and breach of a $3 million contract between LAUSD and Vision to Learn, an organization that he founded and continues to lead.”

I agree. Beutner is totally unqualified. The LAUSD board should be ashamed of this decision. They did not put students first. They put their campaign contributors first. They put students last.