Debra Duardo To Head L.A. County Education Office

The County of Los Angeles has hired a new superintendent of schools for the County Office of Education. In a unanimous vote earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors selected Debra Duardo, executive director of Student Health and Human Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District, to head the agency. As superintendent, Duardo will head the operation of schools for juvenile offenders and other at-risk youth. She will also oversee the county's High School for Arts, International Polytechnic High School and special-education programs for other districts.

"Dr. Duardo is an expert administrator with years of experience in trauma-informed education systems," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "She will bring her outstanding leadership on dropout prevention strategies, restorative justice and special needs education - and she will put students first."

Duardo knows the challenges faced by at-risk youth first-hand. She dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to work as a server at Kentucky Fried Chicken and care for a baby boy. After discovering that her son suffered from a debilitating genetic birth defect, Duardo decided she needed to get an education that would afford her a lucrative career to care for his needs. She went back to school and graduated with a bachelor's degree in social welfare before eventually earning a doctorate from UCLA.

As the executive director of Student Health and Human Services, Duardo has been managing a $200 million budget and more than 1,800 employees. She now takes over for an agency which has been the subject of intense scrutiny as of late.

"Thanks to her innovative leadership and passionate believe in public education, countless numbers of L.A. Unified students have stayed in, or returned to school and earned their diploma," said LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King.

Duardo is expected to assume her new position in May at an annual salary of $267,788, subject to the Board of Education's approval. She is replacing Arturo Delgado who retires in June.

Read more about Debra Duardo here.



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