Dr. Don Brann, the state-appointed trustee of the Inglewood Unified School District, shocked those attending a special board meeting Monday night with the announcement that he was stepping down.
He gave no details about his unexpected resignation and would not respond to interview requests on Tuesday.
Brann is the third state-appointed trustee of Inglewood in three years since the school district went into receivership in 2012. In dire financial shape, the district obtained a $55 million loan from the state in exchange for giving up local control.
The first trustee, Kent Taylor, resigned after just 2 months in the fall of 2012. Interim administrator LaTanya Kirk-Carter held the position until Dr. Brann took over in July 2013. His contract does not expire until June 2017.
No specific timeline was given as to when Brann will leave the district. However, he will remain at the district until a replacement is found. Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the recruitment process will begin immediately.
Last month, Brann announced the District’s 2015-16 fiscal year budget will eliminate a structural deficit that has plagued the school system for many years. The deficit was wiped out ahead of schedule—leaving Inglewood Unified on firmer financial footing as the District works to improve under state receivership.
“While few held hope that this day would come – especially so soon – my team found a path to follow and balanced the budget,” Dr. Brann said. “We have remained focused not on past practices, but on making improvements today and building a better tomorrow.”
However, it still owes the state $28.5 million and cannot not regain local control until the debt is repaid. Now, with Brann’s resignation, it appears, the district will undergo yet another setback.
“As a major stakeholder in the outcome of the District, the Union requests a major role in the selection of the next State Trustee,” Christopher Graeber, Field Representative for California Professional Employees, said in a statement. “Our members work and live in Inglewood and we need to be heard regarding this process.”
Mayor James Butts echoed Graeber’s remarks, and called for community input into the selection of the next trustee, during Tuesday’s council meeting.
In May 2014, Brann approved the layoffs of security and maintenance workers to balance the budget. Graeber, who has been a vocal supporter and critic of Brann, said the union hopes to eventually get raises and hire back employees. “Our members and the community felt the major impact when the last two Trustees made major cuts to the safety and cleanliness of the District,” he said.
In November 2014 a scathing report by KPCC revealed deplorable conditions at some Inglewood schools, including filth, roaches, exposed wires and other safety violations. A follow up inspection in January found progress had been made.
Union leaders said they will meet with the state superintendent of schools this month.