COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Board of Education announced Friday that it will interview seven candidates to be the state’s next superintendent of public instruction later this month.
The seven nominees, who come from among 27 people who applied to become the state’s education chief, include a former board member who resigned shortly before submitting his candidacy and a former U.S. Department of Education official. Education whose agency canceled an Obama administration effort to address racial disparities in school discipline.
Members of the state board of trustees will interview candidates behind closed doors on April 11 and 12, according to a statement from the Ohio Department of Education. From Paolo DeMaria retired as state superintendent last September, Stephanie Siddens served as Acting Superintendent. She did not apply to keep the job permanently.
The leadership change comes at a time of division in public education in Ohio and across the country, as issues such as equity and social-emotional learning have become critical political rallying points. Gov. Mike DeWine last fall asked two members of the state Board of Education to resign after they refused to overturn an anti-racism resolution passed after the 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
One of the seven superintendent candidates is Steve Dackin, who resigned as vice chairman of the state Board of Education in February, three days before he applied to become state superintendent.
Dackin, a Columbus resident, said in a letter last december that he had been asked to “lead the search” for the next state superintendent, although what role he played in the search before his resignation is unclear.
Dackin was previously superintendent of school and community partnerships at Columbus State Community College and school principal in Reynoldsburg, a suburb of Columbus.
A second candidate is Kimberly M. Richey, an attorney who served in the U.S. Department of Education during the Trump administration as acting assistant secretary in the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Special Education and Human Services. rehabilitation of the department.
While in the old position, Richey’s office was canceled non-binding recommendations made in 2014 on how schools could address the issue of students of color being more disciplined than their white classmates.
The recommendations suggested that school policies that cause students of color to be more disciplined than white students may violate federal civil rights law, even if the policies were written without any intent to discriminate. However, in December 2018, the Trump administration published a report reversing the Obama-era recommendations, saying they were based “on a questionable reading of federal law” and “undermine the ability of local authorities to deal with the impact of disciplinary matters on school safety” .
The Biden administration is currently reviewing the Obama administration guidelines.
Last December, Richey wrote a report for the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank, saying the Obama-era recommendations were rooted in “fundamental principles associated with critical race theory” and that state officials could take a a number of steps to oversee these investigations, including appointing an ombudsman who could “take appropriate steps to protect schools from the excesses of the federal government.”
Most recently, Richey worked as president of a consulting firm, RealignEd LLC. Her resume says she has drafted model legislation, state regulations, and school district policies “that regulate the provision of racially-based instruction in K-12 programs and activities.” .
The other five people interviewed for the state superintendent include:
- Larry R. Hook, superintendent of the Springboro Community City School District in southwestern Ohio
- Thomas L. Hosler, Superintendent of Perrysburg Exempt Village Schools in Perrysburg, near Toledo
- Finn Laursen, a longtime educator in Ohio and educational consultant for the Christian Educators Association International, who urges teachers to bring more Christianity into the classroom
- David Paul Quattrochi, Superintendent of Carrolton Exempt Village School District in Carroll County
- Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi, Superintendent of Pennsauken Public Schools in Pennsauken, NJ, near Philadelphia