LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has chosen a former Santa Ana schools superintendent and Obama administration education official as his top education advisor, a key appointment in his evolving relationship with the Los Angeles Unified School District, it was reported today.
In an unusual arrangement, Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, 55, will be hired through the LAUSD so she can continue to accrue benefits in the state teachers retirement system, the Los Angeles Times reported. The cost of her employment will be covered by the city.
Melendez headed the Orange County district, among the state's largest school systems, for two years until her recent surprise retirement. She has said the commute was difficult, with the rest of her family located in Los Angeles, The Times reported.
When she announced her departure, the school board praised her performance. She had developed a broad strategic plan, including a rapid transition to new learning standards adopted by the state, according to the newspaper.
From 2009 to 2011, she served as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary schooling in the U.S. Department of Education. Before that, she headed Pomona Unified for about three years.
In Los Angeles, her title will be director of education and workforce development. Besides providing guidance on matters affecting L.A. Unified, she will also be a liaison with local colleges and businesses to improve the connections between education and job training, according to The Times.
The structure of her contract requires the approval of the Los Angeles Board of Education.