Education Commissioner Chester Announces Retirement of Deputy Commissioner Baehr; Names Interim Deputy Commissioner- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

Education Commissioner Chester Announces Retirement of Deputy Commissioner Baehr; Names Interim Deputy Commissioner

MALDEN - Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell D. Chester today announced the retirement of Deputy Commissioner Karla Brooks Baehr and named Senior Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson as Interim Deputy Commissioner.

Baehr, who will retire in early August, has led the Department's redesign of its accountability and assistance system since her arrival in July 2008. That redesign established a new set of district standards and indicators; refined the Conditions for School Effectiveness, which are necessary conditions for schools to educate their students well; and implemented a framework for district accountability and assistance that describes the roles of and expectations for the Department and districts in all levels of performance. With the new framework in place, the Department in March 2010 identified the state's 35 most persistently low performing schools (Level 4) and announced new federal aid and state support to bring about dramatic improvements in student achievement and turn around those schools.

Baehr was also instrumental in the development of the state's new Educator Evaluation regulations, which the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted in June 2011.

"Karla parlayed her keen understanding of the challenges that teachers and building and district administrators face into strategic state policy planning and implementation," said Chester. "She was a key architect of our accountability and assistance program and has been essential to move the educator evaluation initiative. While I am very sorry to see her go, I am working on a plan to continue to take advantage of Karla's expertise over the next year to help with the design and initial implementation of our work on educator evaluation."

"Karla provided great strategic and tactical support to the Board over the past three years as we designed and adopted new regulations on underperforming schools and educator evaluation," said Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Chair Maura Banta. "Her prior experience as an educator and district leader was invaluable to our better understanding the challenges that districts face and how we can support their work to improve student performance."

"Karla Baehr is the epitome of a dedicated public servant," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "She has brought intelligence, wit, commitment and values to so many challenges facing the Commonwealth and its various communities. She is a proven leader with an extraordinary track record. She will be sorely missed."

Wulfson has been with the Department since 1995 and currently serves as Senior Associate Commissioner. In his current role, Wulfson oversees school finance, regional governance, charter schools, educator licensure, and education data services. As the commissioner's designee, he also serves as the Chairman of the Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement Board.

"Jeff is a seasoned leader at the Department and has a stellar reputation with district leaders, legislators and municipal officials across the Commonwealth," said Chester. "Jeff knows district issues well and has been directly involved in many of the complex policy and financial issues that affect them. I look forward to continuing to rely on Jeff to provide leadership and guidance to our goals of improving student performance and closing achievement gaps, and transforming the Department into a state-of-the-art support and service delivery center."

"Jeff is a well respected leader and has been a great asset to the Board on key issues including school finance, charter schools, and online learning," said Banta. "I look forward to continuing to work with Jeff in his expanded role."

"Jeff Wulfson has earned this appointment by virtue of his longstanding and excellent service, his hard work and his capacity to advance the Commonwealth's education agenda," said Reville. "He is a public servant of great integrity, and we welcome him to this new leadership role."

Commissioner Chester intends to pursue permanent Deputy Commissioner status for Wulfson. Wulfson will serve as one of two Deputy Commissioners to the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Department has posted the vacancy for a second deputy and will continue its search.

Prior to joining the Department, Wulfson worked with the Commonwealth's Office of Inspector General and Department of Revenue. He graduated from Dartmouth College, where he also received his M.B.A, and earned a M.P.A. from New York University.

Baehr has worked at the top levels of public education in both urban and suburban communities for more than 35 years. Most recently prior to joining the Department in 2008, she had served as Superintendent of Schools in Lowell for eight years.

Last Updated: July 12, 2011

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