LBUSD board revokes emergency powers for superintendent

The superintendent of Long Beach Unified will no longer have unilateral power to respond to the coronavirus pandemic after the board revoked an emergency resolution passed more than a year ago.

The resolution, passed on March 13—the day after the school district closed its campuses to stem the spread of COVID-19—gave the superintendent, then Chris Steinhauser, the power to act quickly to respond to the emergency without board approval. Superintendent Jill Baker took over as superintendent last summer.

The decision to revoke those powers was a celebratory one, a sign that the pandemic is waning.

“This is a good news story,” Baker said, noting that the adjusted case rate of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County is 1.9 per 100,000 residents, the lowest it’s been since that number has been tracked.

Baker said the emergency powers were used “a couple times” at the onset of the pandemic. “It’s not necessary any longer and it’s time to repeal the resolution,” she said.

While some painted the resolution as a danger to democracy, members of the Board of Education said they didn’t see it that way.

“We knew this was the right thing to do because there were times things needed to be done before there was a meeting date,” said boardmember Megan Kerr, addressing Baker. “You always did your best to keep us informed. I know there’s some narratives out there around districts where this was used less judiciously than we did and I want to thank you for always keeping us in the loop. I’m glad to see that things are where they are so that this is no longer needed.”

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