The Compton Unified School District's Board of Education fired Supt. J. L. Handy on Tuesday and named Area Supt. Harold Cebrun as his interim replacement.
The 4-3 vote to dismiss Handy was announced after a two-hour closed session. The board then voted 5 to 2 to name Cebrun, who is in charge of Dominguez High School and its feeder schools, as acting superintendent.
Handy, who was placed on probation last month, has been criticized for mismanagement. However, board member Amen Rahh defended Handy on Tuesday, saying the termination violated Handy's contract and could subject the district to a lawsuit.
In the fall, Compton Unified barely escaped becoming the first California school district to be taken over by the state for academic reasons when Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed a measure to take over the schools. Students in the district have consistently scored at or near the bottom on standardized tests.