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Former Ohio State Chief Confirmed as K-12 Assistant Secretary

By Alyson Klein — April 27, 2012 1 min read
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It’s official! Deborah Delisle, who served as Ohio’s state school chief, has been confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Delisle replaces Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana who left the department last July to serve as the superintendent of the 58,000-student Orange County school district in California. Michael Yudin, a former Senate aide, has been serving as acting assistant secretary.

Delisle was the Buckeye State’s superintendent of public instruction from 2008 to 2011 under then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat. Ohio snagged a Race to the Top grant during her tenure. But she was essentially forced to leave her post by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

Delisle brings a state chief’s voice to the department. But she’s also got other perspectives—she began her career as an elementary school teacher in Connecticut and worked as a district superintendent in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City school district. And she served in a variety of district-level roles in Ohio, including as director of Academic Services, director of Curriculum and Professional Development, and coordinator of Gifted and Talented Programs, according to a White House bio.

Delisle is joining the department at a critical juncture— she will help oversee implementation of waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

So what’s her working relationship like with her new boss, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan? Here’s what she told NPR’s State Impact blog.

I know Arne Duncan from my prior experiences as state superintendent of Ohio. I have not worked directly with him. I really have appreciated this administration's focus on students. So often as the state superintendent I would hear information coming out of the U.S. Department of Education that talked about kids. And that's obviously central to all the work that we do.

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