Inglewood educators, elected officials and other stakeholders turned out on Wednesday to officially welcome the new state trustee.
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D. joined the Inglewood Unified School District about 6 weeks ago. She was joined by 100 or more well wishers during breakfast at the Hollywood Park Casino. Guests included IUSD Board President Carliss McGhee, Mayor James Butts, IUSD Board Members, Inglewood City Councilmembers, City of Inglewood and IUSD employees, community college partners and organizations such as the Deltas and the Links.
The new state trustee is charged with achieving the district’s number one goal: returning Inglewood schools to local control. The State took over the district in 2012 amidst bad management and financial problems. The district drew down a loan of $58 million, which must be repaid before Inglewood schools will be out of receivership..
Stable leadership has been another challenge. Melendez De Santa Ana is the fifth person to lead the district in as many years.
“The theme of the reception is ‘we’re stronger together,” McGhee said. “As the city grows, we want to see our schools grow. This is the first time the City and schools did something together. There are a lot or resources on both sides and when they come together, everybody benefits.”
To reach the goal of local control, McGhee said board members, educators, and others community members are “aggressively raising money through the Inglewood Foundation. We are going to look at what we have in terms of properties—not to sell, but we’re going to lease.”
She also dispelled the rumor that school property was going to be taken for the Rams. “The city doesn’t own that property, so the Rams could not take it from the school district.” A new sports center or STEM education center top the list of possible occupants.
For now, the district is focused on helping the new trustee get off to a good start. McGhee is confident that Meléndez de Santa Ana is the best woman for the job.
“She served on the Obama Administration, she was the Superintendent of Schools in Pomona and Santa Ana, and she served with (L.A. Mayor) Eric Garcetti” McGhee said.
Dr. Meléndez de Santa Ana was responsible for the administrative oversight of multiple educational and business services for over 1,000 schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District. She earned a BA cum laude from UCLA, a PhD from USC’s Rossier School of Education, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Pepperdine University.