Help Still Wanted? Hopefuls Don’t Shine, Fla. Extends Commish Search

By Andrew Ujifusa — October 01, 2012 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With the resignation of former Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson after just one controversial year, the state board of education embarked on a search for his replacement. The Florida department announced on Sept. 25 that the board is extending the previous deadline of Sept. 27 for applications to be the next commissioner. The new deadline to apply is nearly two months later, Nov. 30, and then the board plans to vote to name Robinson’s replacement on Dec. 12.

The news release I linked to doesn’t state the reason for extending the deadline. But the “Naked Politics” blog for the Miami Herald reported that the initial list of 16 applicants was considered “lackluster by many observers.” In addition, the blog item from Tia Mitchell said Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, who appoints the state board members, met with board Chairman Gary Chartrand (who was appointed chairman earlier this month) to discuss the search.

So Florida officials have bought themselves more time. But who are the 16 candidates supposedly considered less than stellar? The Tampa Bay Times posted a list of nine candidates back on Sept. 14, and I asked the Florida department that question on Thursday after the list of candidates got longer and the deadline was extended. Here are the names I received, along with a little background about each of them from their resumes sent along by the department.

  • Rep. Ana Rivas Logan, from Florida. Logan, a Republican, has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2010, working on the education appropriations committee. She has also worked at the Miami-Dade County School Board, and as a district administrator and teacher in the Miami-Dade district.

  • Teresa Rio, from Florida. Another Sunshine State name, from 2008 to 2011 she was the public assistance coordinator at the Florida Department of Emergency Management in Miami. Previously she served as the program operations administrator at the state Department of Children and Families in Miami.

  • Thomas Jandris, from Illinois. Jandris, according to Tampa Bay Times reporter Jeffrey Solochek, interviewed for the commissioner position last summer before the job went to Robinson. Jandris is the dean of Concordia University Chicago’s College of Graduate and Innovative Programs, and vice president for educational innovation.

  • Ebbie Parsons III, from Georgia. Parsons lists himself as a partner and co-founder of Blackboard Solutions, which provides consulting services to schools and districts. He also lists himself as the chief operating officer of the “largest charter school management organization in New Orleans,” and previously worked at Mosaica Education. A spokesman for Blackboard Inc., which is headquartered in Washington, told me there is no connection between that company and Parsons’ eponymous group in Atlanta.

  • Michelle Crumpton-Harvey, from Louisiana. Like Parsons, Crumpton-Harvey has a link to the Crescent City—she is the chief operating officer at the Algiers Charter Schools Association in New Orleans, and has served in that role since 2011. She previously served as chief of school administration, and previously served as vice president of EdisonLearning, Inc. in New York City, which provides school improvement and turnaround services, among others.

  • Jordan Rosenberg, from Florida. A teacher in English and history at the Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach with 10 years teaching experience, Rosenberg also says he has experience in information technology, overseeing engineers with various companies on a statewide basis.

  • Philip Samuel, from Maharashtra, India. Samuel has taught math, science, history and English in a “government-aided” school in India since June 1990, and has served as a polling officer and as a teacher involved in a national science “talent search.” He is fluent in four languages including English, Hindi and Tamil, and has “knowledge” of four instruments, the guitar, piano, keyboard, and harmonica.

  • Robert Luckett, from Illinois. Luckett has served as superintendent in four districts, the largest being the South Milwaukee district in Wisconsin. He has also been a teacher and principal, as well as a superintendent search consultant for the Illinois School Board Association.

  • Robert Miller, from Illinois. Miller is now principal at St. Charles East High School, in St. Charles, Ill. he has worked as a school administrator since 1988 in both assistant principal and principal jobs in Illinois and Arizona.

  • Mark Ornstein, from New Jersey. Ornstein is the deputy administrative director for the Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. He has previously worked in the Philadelphia school district, and is also an adjunct instructor in education at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania.

  • Robert Burnside, from New York. Burnside last served as the principal of Amityville Alternative High School from 2008 to 2011. He has also worked as a principal in two other school districts in New York, New Rochelle and Greenburgh. Bunrside has worked in education since 1998.

  • Matthew Stiehm, from Minnseota. Since 2009, Stiehm has worked as chairman of the School of Criminal Justice and security coordinator at the ITT Technical Institute in Eden Prairie, Minn. He has also been involved in the 2011 Midwestern Criminal Justice Association Conference.

  • Derek Daniel, from Maryland. Daniel last served as a “turnaround principal” at the Baltimore IT Academy in Baltimore City Public Schools. He has also worked as an assistant principal in Baltimore schools, and as a special education instructional specialist in another school district in Maryland.

  • Dion Betts, from Pennsylvania. From 2010 to the present, Betts has served as superintendent of the Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania, serving 7,100 students. He also served as an assistant to the superintendent in the South Western School District, in Hanover.

  • Joel Anderson, from Ohio. From 2005 to the present, Anderson has been the director of curriculum and instruction at the Warren County Career Center in Lebanon, Ohio. He has previously served as a principal at three different schools in Alexandria, Ohio.

One lingering question is to what extent the experiences of Robinson, as well as his predecessor Eric Smith, who left under murky circumstances, affect the thinking of major state education officials and superintendents of large districts who could be natural fits for the position. Do such stories make the big guns gun-shy about the Florida job?

The reported finalists in 2011 when Robinson got the job included Jandris, former New Jersey education commissioner Bret Schundler, and Loretta Costin, Florida’s chancellor of career and adult education.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.