LA schools Boss to be John Deasy, of fake degree and Gates (and Broad) foundation fame

The Los Angeles School Board is expected to name John Deasy, now serving as an under-boss to Superintendent Ramon Cortines, to be the new superintendent of the second largest school district in the United State, serving nearly seven hundred thousand students, employing about 45,000 teachers. Deasy came to Los Angeles in August 2010 and immediately became a major and controversial voice supporting "value added" performance evaluations for teachers. His rapid rise has also been attributed to his connections to the Broad and Gates foundations — as well as to a controversial claim to being called by the title "doctor."

Deasy claims to have earned his PhD at the University of Louisville (UL) in the College of Education. The Dean of the College at the time was one Robert Felner, now serving a jail term of 63 months for a variety of frauds committed against UL — and other universities.

The controversial history of John Deasy (and the fact that his quickie "PhD" was awarded by a University of Louisville dean who later went to prison for fraud) seems to be no barrier to the top job in Los Angeles. Deasy has the support of both the Gates and Broad foundations, and that's enough for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.One charge against Feiner was the misappropriation of a $649,000 federal grant. In total, Felner was convicted of stealing $2.3 million in research grants. He was ordered to pay UL $51,000 and the University of Rhode Island $1.3 million. Felner resigned from UL in 2008. He was sentenced on May 17, 2010.

John Deasy earned his PhD directly under Felner, in a period of four months, earning nine UL credit hours.

Prior to coming to UL, Deasy had awarded Felner’s research company, the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, a $375,000 grant from the Santa Monica district where Deasy was head.

Before he came to UL, Felner had been dean at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Education from 1996-2003. Deasy studied there in the same period, while Deasy was also a Rhode Island school superintendent.

According to a highly placed source, formerly at UL, Deasy’s dissertation’s title page carries the date, “May, 2003,” while it is signed off, “April 9, 2004.” He entered the program in January, 2004.

A UL investigation of the Deasy PhD did not condemn the practice. James Ramsey, UL president, who had turned a blind eye to Felner’s notorious corruption (the faculty gave Felner a “no confidence vote” in 2006, but he served at least two more years at UL with Ramsey’s full support), gave his nod to the “blue ribbon” investigation.

However, the UL handbook clearly states that a PhD candidate must spend two years on campus. More, it usually takes most students a minimum of three years. In addition, UL rarely allows a student to transfer more than six credits.

Deasy, after allegations rose up about his imaginary degree but before the investigation, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "If the university made errors in the awarding of the degree, I do hope they rescind it. My responsibility is to do everything I was advised and told to do. If I was advised wrong and given wrong information, the university needs to take responsibility for that. I certainly would not want anything unearned."

Some may find it odd that Deasy did not vigorously defend a scintillating body of work and an illuminating dissertation. His willingness to do what he is told is equally interesting.

In September, 2008, during an investigation done by Maryland, Deasy refused to release his academic records.

After meritoriously buying his PhD, Deasy went on to work with the Gates Foundation where he focused his eyes on teacher evaluations and merit pay.

He also served as superintendent in Coventry Schools in Rhode Island, Prince Georges County, and Santa Monica. He was a Broad and Annenberg Fellow.

The United Teachers of LA first met Deasy when the Los Angeles Times published their infamous “value added teaching” project which sought to link teacher effectiveness directly to test scores. Deasy heartily supported the effort, demanding that UTLA re-open the contract to include the measurement for matters of pay and promotion. UTLA rejected his demand.

UTLA, like other big districts, is now engaged in an internal election battle that will likely determine the direction of the union, that is, more retreats or a ferocious effort to emancipate education from the ruling classes.

[Rich Gibson has a real PhD from The Pennsylvania State University (you can look it up, dissertation online and really long too). He is an emeritus professor of education at San Diego State and is a co-founder of the Rouge Forum. He can be reached at].


January 7, 2011 at 8:57 AM

By: Susan Ohanian

Desy article

Thanks for this article. I've been following Deasy since his Santa Monica days in 2003. Here's the latest post:

So Felner, Deasy's co-conspirator is in jail but Deasy always seems to land holding the bread with the buttered side up. Of some interest is the fact that the Gates press release on his hiring (issued at the same time the scandal over his phony Ph.D. made headlines) and later Philanthropy journal article made no mention of this degree. Maybe Deasy's very short tenure at Gates was just the holding pattern for Deasy to make Los Angeles

a Gates model pay-for-performance school.

January 8, 2011 at 12:32 AM

By: John

John Deasy and corruption in PGCPS

John Deasy left a trail of corruption in PG county which involved the the current supritendant Dr. William Hites Jr. It's sad such characters are allowed to lead and manage such a big amount of money like this. The tax payers are the ones losing here.

February 16, 2011 at 5:10 AM

By: Not surprised

Deasy article

Corruption, corruption, corruption.

April 25, 2011 at 11:18 PM

By: Barry Bakin


Just curious-If Felner was convicted of stealing $2.3 million in research grants, Why was he only ordered to pay UL $51,000 and the University of Rhode Island $1.3 million? Sounds like he got away with a cool million!

Is any information available about Deasy's actual dissertation?

May 18, 2011 at 4:46 PM

By: Hermione Drayton

Deasy and Broad in Los Angeles

No wonder he fits right in! Where is the Los Angeles Times story? Where is the UTLA outrage? Really?

July 10, 2011 at 7:41 PM

By: Karen Horwitz

The corruption in our schools

I wrote a book describing the corruption in our schools called White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail, which explains exactly why they would hire someone like Deasy in a leadership role. While they trash quality educators who know what they are doing, they bring in EducRAT$ whose skill is in the latter part of their name. The fact they have no pedagogical skills is irrelevant when the goal is raiding our schools for money and power.

This article also describes exactly why our schools are failing - people focused on money and power rather than children and education are at the helm. The problem is that our society is so slow to believe people could be this bad. It took them years to finally get what the priests were doing and even longer to get that those running our schools could be criminal-like. All we can do is keep on exposing it. And if you want to read a book that exposes the lack of concern for children in the Chicago Public Schools specifically, read When Teachers Talk, by Rosalyn Schnall. Eventually enough people will connect the dots and their outrage will make White Chalk Crime stop. Unfortunately for the children and the teachers being abused for trying to really education children, this is going to be a while because the cover of motherhood and apple pie goes along with those running our schools. Visit and to join teachers, parents and citizens who have had enough.

February 4, 2012 at 11:40 AM

By: Monica Gribben

Deasy in PGCPS

There was much more corruption in PGCPS (Maryland) before Deasy arrived and there have not been corruption scandals since he left.

I do find it interesting that Deasy is not content to stay in one place very long. It seems to me that the best superintendents stay in their positions for an extended period of time, forge relationships with various stakeholders, and see their efforts come to fruition over time.

I believe Deasy began his dissertation while at U of Rhode Island and followed his advisor to UL where he finished it. So, I doubt he spent only 4 months researching, writing, and defending it. Still, he did seem to earn it in record time considering he was working full-time at least part of his time as a doctoral student.

Monica Gribben, Ph.D.

February 22, 2012 at 8:32 PM

By: Patricia McAllister

John Deasy should be fired.

With only 9 credit hours toward his PhD, the Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, John Deasy, should be fired.

July 2, 2012 at 6:42 PM

By: Bob Wall

Deasy and Felner Questions

Is Dasy's Dissertaion Available at U. of Louiseville or elsewhere? Is there any record of any traveling, living adress, other witnesses to Deasy actually being seen on U. of Louiseville campus? Is there any record of Deasy being gone from his job as Supt of Malibu/Santa Monica Supt. of School District while he was at U. of Louiseville for one semester. Is there any copies of three year $375,000 survey that Robert Felner did as contract awarded by Deasy? Is there angy record of campaign donations made by Ely Broad to LAUSD elected members of board of education that picked Deasy without interviewing anyone elase? Is there any record of what has been done with the $60,000,000 that Deasy awarded from the Gates fund to five Private California Charter School Companies?

October 25, 2013 at 12:45 AM

By: Rich Gibson

Deasy done

Took awhile, but we got him,0,3579257.story#axzz2ihovGDT6

January 11, 2014 at 1:09 AM

By: Rene Diedrich

Deasy renewed contract

Unfortunately Rich is wrong ( but not about much ) . Honestly, he was not the only one because when LA teachers and parents heard DEASY was going to resign, there was a collective rejoicing even among his own minions. This guy is mercurial and mean spirrited ; never mind his malice and mendacity , his magnificent incompetence is the real issue because he is putting children in harm's way, ruining the lives of 1000s of veteran teachers and probably going to bankrupt LA. I am beginning to feel like we are living in this Nathaniel West novel on steroids. The dark farce that is LAUSD is a daily dose of post-modern satire. Imagine Focault's acid flashbacks fraught with apt yet unsettling metaphors .Not long after this comment from Rich, there was an AstroTurf crew dispatched by united way---we have transcripts of the whippersnappers pulling it together a day before we assumed Deasy was going to quit or better yet get fired. This did not happen because Ben Austin bussed in bodies to party outside until the public was permitted to enter. There were anti Deasy folks waiting in line since dawn to speak to the BOE, mostly teacher casualties , a few outraged parents and activists as most were at work. The ASTRO turf peeps were lead past them and coached on talking points which were all about Deasy, LA needs Deasy and the board's unreasonable expectations of Deasy.

His well documented iPad fiasco, the wrongfully terminated teachers replaced by TFA interns and top down lunacy have won Deasy few true fans in LA, but the elite , imperialist crowd whose kids attend private schools are so fond of ( casino capitalism meets CCSS) they paid homeless people and low income parent trigger stooges to sing his praises. They even provided a tour bus, food, music and cold drinks. For that and a day off wages these folks would swear Hitler was saint . The affluent ALso added editorials, letters to the editor and copious blog posts to counter those critical efforts made by earnest citizens .

We could not believe Steve Zimmer betrayed us by voting to keep Deasy . Onlly LaMotte voted him down, while Ratliff abstained . She alone asks the hard questions; clearly the board is elected, but it has no power because those who defy Deasy find themselves in deep fecal matter. For Vlad the inhaler that proved embarrassing and Zimmer obviously hasn't got the eggs for hardball. Niether does Kayeser, who quietly gets in a occassional point or two. Lamotte chose her battles and was losing more than she won. But Ratliff has some real heart. I hope she can hold her own but her necessary compromises will probably undermine her public rapport ---folks oversimplify these struggles . I am starting to believe we should make schools optional after 6th grade. Maybe all together. That way we can start fresh, bankrupt these plutocrats It is a form of protest without worrying a domestic drone will take us out at the first sight of a picket sign.

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