Nine months after he left his job as CEO of Participant Media, Jim Berk is being discussed as one of many candidates to become the next superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, according to a published report.
Berk has been discussed as a possible replacement for retiring Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, though he has not been interviewed and is not one of the current education administrators mentioned as the top candidates for the post, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.
The news about Berk comes nine months after he left the Beverly Hills multimedia company under some pressure, following complaints from some employees that he was a micro-manager and failed to plot an effective strategic plan for the company. Berk resigned in April and has kept a relatively low profile since then. He could not be reached immediately for comment.
Berk would be an out-of-the-box selection to head the troubled school district, but he would not be entirely a newcomcer to the LAUSD. The Hollywood executive began his career as a high school band instructor, then launched an acclaimed music magnet at Hamilton High School. He soon advanced to principal of the school — the youngest principal in the history of L.A. Unified.
Before moving into the business world, Berk once had said he aspired to be superintendent of the giant school district, the second largest in America. The LAUSD has long been challenged by a shortage of money and poor student achievement and, recently, declining enrollment.
Cortines has three times headed the school district, most recently taking the job last year, after Supt. John Deasy resigned under pressure. Cortines is 83.
Pictured above: Chairman of Participant Media Jeff Skoll, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jim Berk