Florida to Go National Again in Search for Education Commissioner
Around the State
The state will bring in a private executive search committee to help find a replacement within 90 days for its education commissioner, leaving after one year on the job.
Members of the state Board of Education, holding an emergency session Thursday morning, also unanimously named K-12 Chancellor Pam Stewart as the interim replacement for Gerard Robinson, who on Tuesday announced he was leaving the $275,000-a-year post to return to his family in Virginia.
Robinson, who has faced public scrutiny over the handling of FCAT and school grades, offered his resignation effective Aug. 31.
Board Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan said Stewart -- who had been deputy superintendent in St Johns County before returning last year to the state Department of Education -- is not interested at this time in being commissioner beyond an interim assignment.
“She is interested in maintaining the process and the progress in terms of the agenda for the fall and the legislative session, and getting that all in place, and working with the new commissioner,” Shanahan said. “That is her position today.”
Shanahan said she had talked to Stewart Wednesday night. Stewart was attending a meeting in Washington, D.C.
Stewart had served as the state's deputy chancellor for educator quality before taking the job with St. Johns County in 2009. She is an educator who also worked as principal at Vanguard High School and Reddick-Collier Elementary School in Marion County.
Board members also agreed to allocate $30,000 to bring in a national executive search firm to help find a replacement for Robinson. The board will have to pick a search firm. Members hope to have candidates available for interviews within three months.
Last year, the state paid the same amount to Ray and Associates Inc., a professional organization that specializes in nationwide school executive searches, before landing Robinson, who had been Virginia’s secretary of education.
Board members said they are happy with Ray and Associates, but will go through the vendor selection process to hire a firm for this year's commissioner search.
On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott said he will provide direction for the board on what he would like to see as a replacement for Robinson.
“I think we need somebody who is a good communicator, believes the same way we believe -- which is in parent choice, accountability and has a focus on measurability,” Scott said after an appearance at the Hilton Orlando.
Florida Democrats have also started to weigh in on how to replace Robinson.
Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, stated that Robinson's resignation "should be a clear indicator to the governor and legislative leaders that recent destructive education reform measures and continued reliance on the FCAT are harmful to the morale and productivity of students and teachers."
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.