Recruitment & Retention

Personnel Moves Continue at Department

By Caroline Hendrie — November 12, 2003 4 min read

Recent shifts in leadership at the Department of Education are continuing with the resignation of Gerald A. Reynolds as the assistant secretary for civil rights and President Bush’s announcement that he will nominate Eugene W. Hickok as the department’s second in command, a post he has occupied in an acting capacity since July.

Mr. Reynolds, who was the only one of the president’s original nominees for a senior department post who did not win Senate confirmation, stepped down Nov. 1 to accept a job in the Department of Justice.

From the time the president tapped him to run the Education Department’s office for civil rights in June 2001, Mr. Reynolds was a lightning rod for criticism from civil rights groups. The office is responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in schools and other educational institutions receiving federal funds.

The latest in a line of conservative African-Americans appointed to the post by Republican presidents, the former corporate lawyer encountered strong opposition to his nomination from such groups as the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, an influential Washington-based coalition of civil rights groups. Those critics joined some Democratic senators in criticizing his lack of experience in civil rights law, as well as his past jobs at two policy groups that oppose racial and ethnic preferences in areas such as college admissions. (“OCR Choice Renews Debate on Credentials Needed for Job,” Sept. 12, 2001.)

In thanking Mr. Reynolds for his service, Secretary of Education Rod Paige praised him as a trusted adviser, and said he could not “emphasize enough the importance of his role here at the department.”

“He has been a quiet voice of reason and a critical team player in our efforts to ensure educational excellence for all children,” Mr. Paige said in a statement. As of last week, the White House had not announced Mr. Reynolds’ successor.

After months of delay, the Senate held a hearing on Mr. Reynolds’ nomination in February 2002. The following month, Mr. Bush appointed him to the civil rights post using the president’s constitutional authority to skirt the confirmation process while Congress is in recess.

That “recess appointment” was due to expire this coming January, and although the president had formally renominated Mr. Reynolds, the confirmation process had not moved forward.

Mr. Reynolds could not be reached for comment last week on his reasons for moving to the Justice Department. There he will serve as a deputy to the department’s third in command, Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum Jr., and will oversee its civil consumer, immigration, and terrorism-related litigation, according to the Justice Department.

Shortcomings Alleged

Officials of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights last week criticized Mr. Reynolds’ performance at the Education Department.

For example, they faulted the OCR for not providing schools guidance on interpreting last June’s landmark rulings in two cases involving admissions policies at the University of Michigan, which resulted in a qualified endorsement of the use of race and ethnicity to achieve classroom diversity.

They also claimed that the office had tried to intimidate school officials into abandoning race-conscious policies, and had removed from the department’s Web site Clinton-era policy-guidance documents on sexual harassment in education programs and discrimination in testing.

“The office under Reynolds’ leadership has been a disgrace,” said William L. Taylor, a veteran Washington civil rights lawyer who is the vice chairman of the leadership conference. “Instead of helping people comply with the law, they’ve simply erased previous efforts to offer guidance and not replaced them with anything new.”

A spokeswoman for the Education Department said the guidance documents in question were now available online in the department’s electronic archives. She declined to comment on the conference’s other charges beyond Mr. Paige’s statement, in which he said Mr. Reynolds’ “principled stances on civil rights issues have benefited countless students.”

Also defending Mr. Reynolds was his successor at the Center for Equal Opportunity, a public- policy group based in Sterling, Va., that opposes affirmative action. Roger B. Clegg, the center’s general counsel, said many Democrats “oppose anyone who does not support racial and ethnic preferences, particularly for positions that have important civil rights law-enforcement responsibilities.”

He said that was the case “particularly if those individuals happen to be African-American, because if an African-American opposes racial and ethnic preferences, it’s very threatening to them.”

Moving Up

Meanwhile, President Bush’s Oct. 31 announcement that he would nominate Mr. Hickok to serve as deputy secretary of education was not a surprise to department observers.

The former Pennsylvania schools chief, who has been among the administration’s most visible spokesmen for the No Child Left Behind Act, was confirmed by the Senate to the department’s No. 3 post, undersecretary of education, in July 2001. He also has been serving as acting deputy secretary since William D. Hansen stepped down from that post in July.

The president announced on Oct. 28 that he planned to fill the department’s No. 3 position with a top financial officer from the Department of Agriculture, Edward R. “Ted” McPherson. (“Fiscal Official Tapped for E.D. Post,” Nov. 5, 2003.)

Related Tags:

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Understaffed School District IT Departments Are a Big Problem. Here's One Way to Solve It
An Oregon district needed bilingual support staff to help Spanish-speaking families manage virtual learning. It didn't need to look far.
4 min read
A worker passes public school buses parked at a depot in Manchester, N.H., Monday, April 27, 2020. New Hampshire public school children continue to be taught with remote learning, while buildings are closed to students through the end of the academic year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In school districts across the country, buses sat idle through much of the past year. Some districts turned to bus drivers or other support staff to fill IT jobs.
Charles Krupa/AP
Recruitment & Retention Pay Raises and Pandemic Bonuses: Can They Keep Teachers in Classrooms?
Some states are proposing salary hikes and offering teachers one-time bonuses. Will the money have an effect on post-pandemic retention?
8 min read
Woman paying bills.
Getty
Recruitment & Retention Mentors Matter for New Teachers. Advice on What Works and Doesn't
Mentorships can go a long way in keeping new teachers in the field. But not all mentor-mentee relationships are created equal.
6 min read
Misti Kemmer, a 4th grade teacher at Russell Elementary School in Los Angeles, had a negative experience being mentored as a new teacher, but is now a mentor herself.
Misti Kemmer, a 4th grade teacher at Russell Elementary School in Los Angeles, had a negative experience being mentored as a new teacher, but is now a mentor herself.
Morgan Lieberman for Education Week
Recruitment & Retention Principals and Teachers Don't Always See Eye to Eye. Can Getting In Sync Reduce Turnover?
Teachers and principals are not on the same page about why teachers teach, why they quit, and how to get them to stay.
10 min read
Teacher and coach Howard Hill at the King William High School athletic track in King William, Va. on April 23, 2021.
Howard Hill, a coach and agriculture teacher at King William High School in King William, Va., considered leaving the profession early, but changed his mind because of the support he received from colleagues.
Parker Michels-Boyce for Education Week