Brian Whiston, who led Michigan’s department of education since 2015 before going on sick leave last month after telling the state board he had been diagnosed with cancer, died Monday. He was 56.
Chief Deputy Superintendent Sheila Alles has led the department since Whiston’s medical leave began.
Whiston was hired by the board in 2015. Under his watch, the state’s department of education put together its under the Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plan. Officials in the department said there were close to 300 people involved in the process.
“It takes time to get the vision, and then it takes time to implement the vision, and I think we’re just coming to that point where you’re going to see these things,” Whiston said to mlive.com in an interview before he went on sick leave. “I’m deeply disappointed I’m not going to be here for that part of the process.”
Whiston had set a goal for Michigan to become one of the top 10 performing states in the nation within 10 years.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Brian Whiston,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “He has been a visionary leader in education at the state and national levels, and an important member of the CCSSO family. During his time as the state superintendent in Michigan, he forged a new strategic vision for the state and worked to create a better path for all students throughout Michigan schools. We at CCSSO also appreciated his kindness and unending passion to do what is in the best interest of all kids.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.