The board of education picked a Navy official with little classroom experience to become superintendent of the nation's second-largest school district, ignoring Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's request to be involved in the selection.

The board voted unanimously to start contract negotiations with Navy Vice Adm. David L. Brewer III to replace retiring superintendent Roy Romer as chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said board President Marlene Canter.

Brewer, 60, spoke at a press conference Friday, saying of the school district:"We are going to shoot for world class."

Brewer oversaw the Military Sealift Command, managing a supply chain for equipment, fuel and ammunition for U.S. forces worldwide.

"We're very fortunate to have this kind of leader to come to L.A.,"Canter said.

Villaraigosa is poised to assume some control over Los Angeles schools, the result of a state law that takes effect in January giving some authority to a council of mayors encompassing Los Angeles and more than two dozen other cities served by the school district.

The mayor, currently on a trade mission in Asia, had wanted to help pick the district's next chief, but the board refused his request last week.

In a statement issued by his office, he voiced concern over the vote and said he hoped the admiral would support"fundamental reform"of the schools.

"I am deeply disappointed that the school board made this decision without the meaningful inclusion of parents, teachers, the council of mayors or the broader Los Angeles community,"Villaraigosa said.

Brewer, a 35-year veteran, will become the second black person to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District and will continue a national trend of non-educators leading schools. He follows on the heels of former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer who is expected to retire next month as superintendent.

The Los Angeles school district has more than 727,000 students, 1,130 schools and 78,000 employees and has a dismal graduation rate and high dropout rate.

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