Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Superintendent to Head Bellflower Schools
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Ben Drati has been appointed Superintendent of the Bellflower Unified School District. He starts his new job in January 2023.
"I realize this is unexpected. I want to let you know that I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated serving as the Superintendent of SMMUSD and will always cherish my time here," Drati said in a statement.
"I will continue to root for and support the journey you have embarked on, and my family and I thank you for six great years of educating our students and preparing them for college and career.”
Drati has led SMMUSD for six years. He previously served as Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education for the Santa Barbara Unified School District. He has worked as a chemistry teacher, a football coach, and a high school principal.
The past year has been a difficult one for Bellflower Unified. Former superintendent Tracy McSparren was placed on leave in June after a state audit found the district had amassed $83 million in reserves while essentially neglecting student needs. McSparren’s contract was not renewed.
The Los Angeles County Office of Education also filed a lawsuit in June alleging Bellflower Unified refused to comply with the state Superintendent Office’s decision to revoke the district's fiscal independence. LACOE accused the district of illegally using public funds, showing disregard for LACOE authority. That suit named McSparren, as well as board members Renita Armstrong, Jerry Cleveland, Debbie Cuadros, Richard Downing and Laura Sanchez-Ramirez.