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Ex-Ohio Schools’ Chief Nominated to Key Federal K-12 Post

By Michele McNeil — January 23, 2012 1 min read

President Obama is nominating Deborah Delisle, the former Ohio schools’ chief, to be the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

She would replace Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, who left the department in July to lead the Santa Ana school district in Orange County, Calif. In the interim, Michael Yudin, who was Melendez’s deputy, has been filling in.

Delisle, who will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, served as Ohio superintendent of public instruction from 2008 to 2011 under then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat. Delisle, whose state won a coveted Race to the Top grant during her tenure, was essentially forced to resign by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

In her new post, she would be in charge of Title I and most other key K-12 programs. And presumably, her office will play a key role in implementing and overseeing waivers the department ends up granting under No Child Left Behind.

Her bio, according to the White House’s announcement tonight:

Deborah Delisle served as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education from 2008 to 2011. Previously, Ms. Delisle worked in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in Ohio, first as Associate Superintendent from 2001 to 2003, then as Superintendent from 2003 to 2008. Since beginning her career as an elementary teacher in Connecticut in the 1970s, Ms. Delisle has served in a variety of roles at the school district level in Ohio, including as Director of Academic Services, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, and Coordinator of Gifted and Talented Programs. Ms. Delisle has served on several education boards, including the Governing Board of the Minority Student Achievement Network, Executive Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Board. Ms. Delisle is a recipient of the Betsy Cowles Women in Leadership Award and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award. She holds a B.S. from Springfield College and an M.Ed. from Kent State University.