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School leaders call on LePage to nominate DOE Commissioner – December 14, 2016

The Maine School Boards Association and Maine School Superintendents Association are once again calling on Gov. Paul LePage to outline his plans to appoint a permanent commissioner of education after it was announced this morning that Deputy Commissioner William Beardsley, who was acting as head of the department, is resigning.

“With the announcement this morning that Dr. Beardsley is resigning comes an opportunity to set in motion the process to appoint a permanent commissioner,” said MSSA President Steven Bailey. “That leadership role is critical to bring stability back to the DOE, whose staff superintendents rely on to do their job.”

The superintendents association in June sent a letter to Gov. LePage asking him to exercise his leadership and outline the process for finally nominating a permanent commissioner. In that letter they said the uncertainty around the position had diminished the department’s stature and caused disruption at a time when major education initiatives are underway, including proficiency-based diplomas and implementation of the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Gov. LePage responded at the time that Beardsley would remain to lead the department as acting deputy until the end of the governor’s term. The announcement today that Dr. Beardsley is leaving Dec. 23 for personal reasons changes that plan.

“We wish Dr. Beardsley well, but it is time to move forward and name a commissioner who is vetted through the traditional process,” said MSBA President Becky Fles. “Our districts deserve it and above all, our students do.”

MSBA Delegate Assembly, representing school boards from across the state, passed a resolution in October calling for just that. It read:

“In recognition of the important relationship between school districts and the state Department of Education, the Maine School Boards Association is calling on the governor’s office to outline the process and qualifications it wants in a permanent commissioner and to nominate a candidate for legislative approval in the upcoming session. The absence of a permanent commissioner has left the state without an official leader to articulate education policy and direction and has caused disruption and turnover among DOE staff, whom districts rely on for information and guidance.

If the governor’s office does not put forth a permanent commissioner nominee, the next Legislature needs to express and advance viable options for filling this key position.”

MSBA President Becky Fles:
MSSA President Supt. Steve Bailey:

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