For more than 20 years, Bill Modzeleski worked at the federal Department of Education on improving school safety, a gig that started when he was sent from the U.S. Department of Justice to run the the National Commission on Drug-Free Schools.
After more than 20 years at the department, including the last 10 at the decade-old Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Mr. Modzeleski stepped down from his post as acting assistant deputy secretary of the office last week.
His departure comes just a few months after assistant deputy secretary Kevin Jennings stepped down—Mr. Modzeleski then stepped in—and in the midst of changes to the office.
The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools was eliminated earlier this year. Now funded at $191 million in the fiscal 2011 budget, after a $79 million budget cut by Congress, its programs will be moved into a new Office of Safe and Healthy Students, to be located within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
In a parting note, Mr. Modzeleski wrote how much he learned from the staff in the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
“First, I learned just how difficult your jobs are. Each and every one of you is working with hundreds of school districts, of various sizes, shapes and needs, that present multiple problems, many of which are exacerbated by dysfunctional families and communities,” he wrote. “Next, I learned how your efforts impact teaching and learning. In the education community, we tend to focus on teaching and learning but ignore the conditions that make both possible. You make teaching and learning possible!”