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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Contact:Jacqueline Reis, 781-338-3115

Board Plans Search for New Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner

MALDEN - The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education today discussed plans to begin the search for a new commissioner following Mitchell Chester's unexpected death in June. At a special meeting in Malden, Board Chair Paul Sagan outlined plans to work with a search firm, draft a job description, and create a subcommittee of the Board to begin the search process. "Picking a new commissioner may be the most important work this Board does," Chair Sagan said. "Serving as the commissioner of education in Massachusetts is widely viewed across the nation as one of the most important roles in elementary and secondary public education, so I'm very optimistic that we'll attract an excellent pool of candidates." The Board will collect input from the public about the qualities that are seen as most desirable in the next commissioner, Chair Sagan said. Public comment will be welcome at Board meetings and through online submission. The Department will issue a bid this week to acquire the services of a search firm. Chair Sagan will also name a preliminary screening committee, which will be a subcommittee of the Board, to work on the search. The preliminary screening committee will decide on a group of finalists to forward to the full Board for consideration. The names of finalists will be made public. The Board will interview finalists in open session and will deliberate in open session before voting on a name to forward to Education Secretary James Peyser for approval. The candidate will need the support of a supermajority of the Board, or at least 8 of 11 members. Under state statute, the secretary has approval authority. "Like Chair Sagan, I am optimistic that many strong candidates will be interested in serving as the next commissioner of elementary and secondary education in Massachusetts," Secretary Peyser said. "While I am sad to have lost Commissioner Chester, I believe our status as a national leader will help attract good applicants who will continue to improve schools in the Commonwealth." The Board is planning to make a decision on a new commissioner by the end of calendar year 2017 and would like to have the individual selected start as soon as possible. Jeff Wulfson is currently serving as acting commissioner and does not intend to apply for the position. ###

Last Updated: August 15, 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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