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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-55
July 20, 2017
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Appoints State Administrator for Inglewood Unified School District

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced Dr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana as his selection for State Administrator for the Inglewood Unified School District.

“Thelma Meléndez has a strong combination of leadership skills and experience managing school districts,” Torlakson said. “She will continue the district’s positive momentum.”

Meléndez most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Educational Services in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She was also Superintendent at the Pomona Unified and Santa Ana Unified School Districts, and served as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. The American Association of School Administrators named her the California Superintendent of the Year in 2009. She will begin her appointment August 16, 2017.

“The Inglewood school community has the ingredients for greatness, and it will be an honor to lead the district into the next phase of progress for all students,” Meléndez said. “Partnering with parents, teachers, the school board, and the community, we will strive for excellence in every classroom, for every child, every day. I am eager and ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.”

Dr. Meléndez began her career as a teacher in the Montebello Unified School District. More recently, she was appointed Chief Advisor on Education and Workforce Development by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, and a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Meléndez is also a member of the California State University Board of Trustees.

The state took over Inglewood Unified in 2012, when, at the district’s request, Governor Brown approved legislation that provided up to $55 million in emergency loans to help the district meet its financial obligations. The loan must be repaid within 20 years.

The legislation also required the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to assume all the legal rights, duties, and powers of the governing board of the district and appoint a state trustee to serve as administrator. By law, the school district's elected governing board serves only in an advisory capacity until a number of conditions are met.

The Superintendent’s authority continues until the district has adequate fiscal systems and controls in place, and the Superintendent has determined that the district complies with an approved fiscal plan. The recovery plan also includes steps to improve the district's community relations and governance, pupil achievement, and management of finances, personnel, and facilities.

Inglewood Unified School District is the ninth school district in California to request an emergency loan since 1990. Since then, eight districts have returned to full local control. For information, visit the California Department of Education's State Emergency Loans Web page.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 3, 2020
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