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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-69
September 15, 2011
Contact: Paul Hefner
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Returns Local Authority
to Emery Unified After 10 Years of State Control

EMERYVILLE—Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson formally returned local authority to Emery Unified School District today, 10 years after the school system was taken over by a state administrator as part of a $1.3 million emergency loan.

"Students benefit when their schools are in the hands of parents, teachers, administrators, and leaders in their own community," Torlakson said. "I'm pleased that the state was there to step in to help when we were needed. But I'm even more pleased—now that the loan has been repaid—that the state can step aside."

"On behalf of our district, I want to thank our teachers and principals, city and business leaders, parents and students who rallied so strongly to stabilize our schools," said Board President Miguel Dwin. "Over the past decade we have addressed many challenges. Now that we have demonstrated our fiscal stability and accountability, we can bring this chapter to a close and start a new one."

"Today's milestone allows our district to hit the ‘reset button' and focus exclusively on teaching and learning," said Dr. Debbra Lindo, Emery USD Superintendent. "Now we can singularly focus on bringing creative ideas and innovation, excellence in teaching and teamwork in small learning environments to reaching our API and academic performance goals. We have every opportunity to become one of the best-performing school districts in the region."

Torlakson praised district board members, administrators, and staff for working cooperatively with state officials during the district's 10-year trusteeship, which began in July 2001.

California law requires state and county offices of education to monitor the fiscal health of school districts. Districts that are in jeopardy of bankruptcy are eligible to receive emergency loans, which must be approved by the state Legislature. As part of the loan terms, districts are required to turn control of their operations over to a state appointed trustee until the loan is repaid.

When Emery Unified sought its loan, then-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin named Henry Der as state-appointed administrator to govern the district. Two years later, former State Superintendent Jack O'Connell named John Quinn as state trustee.

Partial powers were returned to the nearly 800-student district in 2004, although the state trustee continued to have the authority to stay and rescind actions that could adversely affect Emery's financial condition.

Since1991, only eight of California's 1,043 districts have been placed under state control. Emery Unified is the fourth district to fully repay its emergency loan and regain local administrative and financial control.

More information about the state's school emergency loan process may be found at State Emergency Loans - Fiscal Status.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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