Newly appointed Inglewood school board member Joseph Rouzan brings a long career in city government and police administration to a traditionally political and contentious board.
Rouzan says his experience and personality will provide a stabilizing force.
His resume is impressive: a bachelor's degree in public management and a master's in business administration from Pepperdine; former Los Angeles police captain; former Compton city manager and police chief, and, from 1981 to 1986, Inglewood police chief and assistant city manager. His company, Joseph Theodore & Associates, is the chief security consultant for Los Angeles International Airport.
Rouzan, 55, lives in the Ladera Heights area and has a grandchild in the Inglewood schools. He comes to the board promising to increase the involvement and funding of outside businesses in school district programs and calling for the district to establish long-range guidelines on issues including budgets and improving student test scores.
He also hopes to lead a concerted fight against drug use in the schools. Part of that effort should be an assessment of the school district police force, he said.
"With the board's permission, I'd like to take a look at the organization of the police unit," he said. "We need to determine the most effective use of those officers and look at their training. We should have quality people at quality pay."
As Inglewood's first black police chief, Rouzan presided over a department that reduced crime substantially during his tenure. However, some officers complained that his management style was overly focused on details.
Others said that political aspirations impelled him to spend too much time at City Hall in his capacity as assistant city manager. And political observers have speculated that his move onto the school board is preparation for a try at a top city management or political position.
Rouzan said he does not see the school board as a springboard.
"I have no plans in that direction at all," he said.
Councilman Danny Tabor, who said he has known Rouzan for more than 12 years, described him as a "straight, rational, stand-up individual."
"He'll bring administrative skills to the board and a commitment to working in the community," Tabor said. He said those who speculate about Rouzan's possible ambitions should "examine him as a board member to ascertain whether that's true or not."
If parents and community groups angry with the selection process succeed in their effort to force an election for the seat, Rouzan says he will run hard and intends to win. As to criticism that the board violated the state's open-government laws in the appointment process, Rouzan said he was reserving judgment.
"Certainly I have concerns if there was a violation," he said. "We have to make sure our attorney gives us good legal advice. People who know me know if I were sitting there I would do my homework on that kind of question."
The choice of Rouzan has been described as an agreeable one to the major political players in Inglewood, notably Democratic Assemblyman Curtis Tucker and Mayor Edward Vincent.
Rouzan said he has developed a "good working relationship" with Tucker, Vincent and many other politicians during his long career, but also said he has a reputation for independence and effectiveness.
"I'm issue-oriented," Rouzan said. "People should look at what I do. I think they'll be pleased with my performance."