For the first time after being named interim superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Ramon Cortines is opening up about how he plans to lead the nation's second-largest school district for the third time in his career.
As far as Cortines is concerned, his reappointment is permanent.
In an exclusive interview with NBC4's Robert Kovacik, Cortines said, "The board didn't approve an interim superintendent. The board approved a superintendent."
This is in contrast to a written statement from LAUSD.
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"The process of hiring a permanent superintendent for the nation's second-largest district may be a lengthy one--in the end it is important for the right person to be at the helm of LAUSD. The District should be led by someone who understands the diverse needs of the District, its 640,000 students and its 60,000 employees--including 35,000 educators--and who is responsive to the elected Board of Education," the district said.
Cortines, 82, is replacing John Deasy, who resigned Oct. 16 amid increasing scrutiny from the teachers' union and some board members.
"I was sorry to see the strain that came between the superintendent and the board," Cortines said. "The board before, we disagreed, but I didn't suck my thumb and take my marbles and go home."
Cortines plans to improve relations with board members, but he warned: "They have to be part of the solution."
Cortines revealed to NBC4 how he is going to approach Tuesday's closed board meeting.
"I intend to ask the board what are the five things you want me to work on," Cortines said. "And I will say these are the five things I am going to commit to and they cover all the things you have given me, just maybe not in the way you ask."
While there is uncertainty surrounding how long Cortines will remain on the job, Cortines' goal is clear.
"This is about children and the people who take care of children every day, our employees," Cortines said. "And if I can help them feel better, that they are appreciated, respected, then I will have done my job."
In addition to Los Angeles, Cortines has previously been at the helm of school systems in San Francisco, San Jose, New York and Pasadena.