Austin Beutner, now gone as superintendent of the nation’s second-largest school district, has been alternately praised, denounced and, finally, thanked for his three years as a “crisis manager.”
From the get-go, the Los Angeles Unified school board’s decision to hire Beutner in May 2018 was controversial. He had a background in business, investment banking, politics and nonprofit leadership but no experience leading a school, district or classroom.
He is the son of immigrant parents, like many of the students attending L.A. Unified schools. But he made his fortune in the private-sector finance world, unlike most of the families whose children attend the school district he has led. At the state’s largest school district, encompassing over 700 square miles across a culturally diverse county, nearly 80% of families live in poverty.
The district’s own board of education was divided when he was hired on a 5-2 vote.