But he doesn’t appear to be the frontrunner for the job at the nation’s second-largest school district, the newspaper reported. The newspaper named former investment banker Austin Beutner as the leading candidate and said that Ferebee and former Baltimore Superintendent Andres Alonso are “the other two apparent finalists.”
Indianapolis Public Schools spokeswoman Carrie Black said Tuesday she could not confirm that Ferebee was a contender for the superintendent’s position in Los Angeles. School board member Kelly Bentley said she was not aware of whether he was a finalist for the position.
Ferebee has made a name for himself nationally by overhauling Indianapolis Public Schools, converting low-performing schools into “innovation schools” run by outside charter operators but still under the district’s umbrella.
The selection of Ferebee might signal that Los Angeles is further embracing what some call the “portfolio model” — the idea that all schools should be given freedom to operate as they see fit, but held accountable for their results, largely through test scores.
Under Ferebee’s tenure, IPS has embraced key tenets of the approach, including a common enrollment system for district and charter schools and an initiative that turns over district schools to nonprofit operators who are granted additional autonomy. Some Los Angeles school board members have suggested the district move in a similar direction.
Since Ferebee took the helm at the city’s largest school district in 2013, Indianapolis Public Schools has significantly improved its graduation rate to 83 percent, up from about 68 percent.
But he’s also led controversial moves, such as closing three of the district’s high schools and asking for nearly $1 billion in referendums that the district scaled back and later postponed until November because of a lack of community support.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.