Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo today announced the appointment of LACOE Deputy Superintendent Erika Torres as the new county administrator for the Inglewood Unified School District. The appointment follows the October retirement of the district’s most recent state administrator, Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana.
“Dr. Torres is a talented leader with the commitment and passion for education that drive positive change. She will offer outstanding support for the great work already underway at Inglewood Unified,” Duardo said.
She added, “Our role with all 80 school districts in Los Angeles County is to provide support and guidance. For Inglewood Unified, our most urgent goal is to ensure that oversight and governance return to the community and its elected board members. I am confident we are on the path to achieving this objective under Dr. Torres’ leadership. This is a new day for Inglewood Unified.”
Torres brings more than 20 years of experience in public education, including an extensive background in oversight of major departments and programs that promote academic achievement by addressing the safety, health and academic potential of every student.
Torres has served as LACOE’s lead since September 2018, working closely with Meléndez and the Inglewood community. As LACOE’s deputy superintendent, Torres joined Inglewood Unified full-time in July 2019 following the announcement that Meléndez would retire in the fall.
Under Torres’ leadership, the Inglewood Unified/LACOE team has adopted a research-proven model for instructional improvement that focuses on good teaching as a foundation for setting high expectations and providing all learners with quality instruction.
Torres joined LACOE as deputy superintendent in July 2018. Previously, she served as executive director of Student Health and Human Services as well as the director for Pupil Services/Dropout Prevention and Recovery at the Los Angeles Unified School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Master of Social Work from California State University, Los Angeles and a doctoral degree in Education from the University of Southern California.
“Dr. Torres is a highly qualified and effective educator who brings with her a deep passion for students,” said Inglewood Unified Board President D’Artagnan Scorza. “Our school board is excited about the opportunity to partner with Dr. Torres and LACOE to ensure that we exit receivership under her tenure and strengthen the years of progress we made under Dr. Meléndez.”
Inglewood Unified has been in state receivership since 2012, when the State of California made an emergency appropriation of $29 million to help the district avoid fiscal insolvency. During the receivership, a series of seven state administrators were assigned by the state superintendent of public instruction to lead the school district.
Prior to the passage of Assembly Bill 1840 in 2018, LACOE provided fiscal oversight of Inglewood Unified and the state provided direct, hands-on leadership of the district.
The passage of Assembly Bill 1840 in 2018 assigned county offices of education with the oversight responsibility of school districts in receivership. The state provides support through the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence and the independent Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, which gives managerial assistance and training to school districts in financial distress.
“Thanks to the support of the Inglewood community and its families, we are creating a positive and stable environment where young people will thrive,” Duardo said. “It’s a fresh start to a new Inglewood.”
The Los Angeles County Office of Education, headquartered in Downey, is the nation’s largest regional education agency, providing a range of programs and services to support the region’s 80 K-12 school districts and more than two million preschool and school-age children.