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ROMER FILLS TOP EDUCATION POSITION FORMER CANOGA PARK PRINCIPAL NAMED TO POST.

Byline: Harrison Sheppard Staff Writer

Superintendent Roy Romer put the finishing touches on his management team Thursday by appointing a former longtime district insider to Los Angeles Unified's top education post.

Maria Gutierrez Ott, 52, the superintendent of a small Santa Fe Springs school district and a former Canoga Park principal, was named deputy superintendent of instruction. She will be responsible for curriculum and education issues and will report directly to Romer, who as a former Colorado governor has no direct educational experience.

Since he started in July, Romer has staffed his administrative cabinet with career LAUSD administrators, including the three superintendents who oversee the San Fernando Valley's three new minidistricts.

His newest appointee will earn $170,000 a year under a three-year contract, starting later this month. Before taking her current job in 1993, Ott worked in LAUSD for more than 20 years in various teaching and administrative positions, including a stint as principal of Hart Street School for two years.

Ott previously worked for the district as an administrator of elementary instruction, specializing in language acquisition and bilingual development.

``I feel in many ways like I'm coming home,'' Ott said. ``I was there for 23 years before I became a superintendent here for seven years.''

Romer said Ott was the best candidate he interviewed. He insisted that her outsider status and Latino heritage played no role in her hiring. Latino students comprise a majority in the district.

``She happened to be the one who was the strongest I could find who was available for this job,'' Romer said. ``She is a person who is very much respected by people that I knew.''

For the past seven years, Ott has been superintendent of the Little Lake City School District in Santa Fe Springs, an elementary school district of 5,200 students. She earned $150,000 including bonuses. By comparison, Los Angeles Unified has 711,000 students. San Fernando High School alone has 4,500 students.

As the district's new deputy superintendent, she said her top priority will be ``student achievement - analyzing data to determine where our strengths and weaknesses are, and determining what we are doing that is hindering the classroom from meeting its mission.''

She will have her work cut out for her.

On Monday, the state Department of Education is scheduled to release the Stanford 9 Achievement Test scores for individual schools. Although Los Angeles Unified students made significant gains on this year's test, the district still ranks below average on the multiple-choice standardized exam.

Ott first joined LAUSD in 1971 as a teacher. Her first principal job was at Hart, where she served from 1981 to 1983.

She has served as president of the California City Superintendents Association and president of the California Latino Superintendents Association.

School board president Genethia Hayes recalled that Ott was involved in designing the Eastman Project, a program which helped elementary studetns learn second languages, whether or not they were native English speakers.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 14, 2000
Words:492
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