LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After three years in the position, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner plans to step down when his contract expires on June 30, he announced Wednesday.
Beutner sent a letter to the district's Board of Education after the board asked him to consider extending his contract.
"I believe it is fitting that a new superintendent should have the privilege of welcoming students back to school in the fall," Beutner wrote.
He suggested the next superintendent can be found among the district's current staff.
Beutner, 61, has been the district's superintendent since May 2018.
Beutner told ABC7 he felt like he had accomplished or made progress on many of his goals, including rebuilding trust in the district and, this year, reopening schools safely after the pandemic closures.
He had a message for his successor:
"My advice is keep doing what we're doing but do it faster. Lots of work to do but kids can't wait."
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner tells ABC7 why he's stepping down
The Board of Education released a letter thanking Beutner for his work and saying they were "disappointed" he was choosing not to continue in the position.
"We would like to thank Superintendent Austin Beutner for his three years of dedicated service to the students and families of LA Unified," the board wrote. "We are particularly grateful for his unwavering leadership during the extraordinary challenges facing our school district during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Before becoming superintendent, Beutner's career included stints as deputy mayor of Los Angeles, mayoral candidate, and about a year as publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times. He started his career as a successful investment banker and has remained involved in many philanthropic and civic activities.
His hiring in 2018 was criticized because of his lack of experience in education. But supporters argued that his success in the business world would translate well to managing a large organization facing significant financial challenges.
Although he clashed at times with the teachers union, he is credited with helping the district get through the COVID-19 pandemic, including challenges such as negotiating with the teachers over safety rules for the return to classrooms, overseeing the delivery of millions of meals to district students and families, and providing COVID tests and vaccinations.
He also helped the district get through a teachers strike in 2019.
"The past three years have presented LA Unified with unprecedented challenges,'' he wrote. "I'm proud to say we've risen to the occasion and grateful to have worked alongside so many who are deeply committed to helping children. It has been my privilege to contribute to work that reinforces one of the greatest achievements in human history: a free public education for every child."