With Margaret Spellings in place as the new U.S. secretary of education, further staff changes are afoot in her department, including the naming of David Dunn, a White House domestic-policy aide, as the secretary’s chief of staff.
The Department of Education last week also announced the appointment of two deputy chiefs of staff. Meanwhile, the list of leadership vacancies has grown with the departure late last month of Maria Hernandez Ferrier, who was the director of the department’s office of English-language acquisition for nearly three years.
The choice of Mr. Dunn, 48, as the chief of staff should come as little surprise. His association with Ms. Spellings dates back to their days in Texas. In fact, he held the same position at the Texas Association of School Boards—associate executive director for government relations—that Ms. Spellings once held with the Texas group.
In August 2002, Mr. Dunn left Texas to go to work in the White House, where Ms. Spellings was President Bush’s chief domestic-policy adviser.
Mr. Dunn handled a wide range of education policy matters at the White House, from early-childhood to higher education. He’s no stranger to the Education Department, as he was assigned there for part of last year on a special detail to help manage the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.
“David Dunn’s experience and expertise make him an outstanding addition to the Department of Education,” Secretary Spellings said in a Jan. 26 statement, “and I have complete confidence in his ability to inspire and lead.”
Prior to his work at the Texas school boards group, Mr. Dunn worked for 15 years for the state of Texas as an education- and fiscal-policy analyst. He helped craft that state’s school accountability system, a blueprint for the federal school accountability law.
The chief of staff is a key behind-the-scenes position at the agency. This person typically plays a lead role in overseeing policy development, daily operations, and staff activities.
The department last week also announced the appointments of Emily Kertz Lampkin and Robin Gilchrist as deputy chiefs of staff. Ms. Lampkin for the past two years has served as the department’s director of communications and outreach for the No Child Left Behind Act. Ms. Gilchrist has served as a liaison to education groups for the past year.
Some central positions at the Education Department remain to be filled. For one, Deputy Secretary Eugene W. Hickok announced in December his plans to depart, though he remains in the No. 2 post for the time being.
Other vacancies include the position of assistant secretary for the office for civil rights and the department’s general counsel, both of which require Senate confirmation. The head of the English-language-acquisition office does not require confirmation.
Ms. Ferrier left her position as the deputy undersecretary and director of the English-language-acquisition office on Jan. 20.
In an interview from her home in San Antonio, Ms. Ferrier said she stepped down in part because she hadn’t had sufficient time in the Washington job to grieve over the death last year of her husband of 22 years and wanted to be close to her children and grandchildren in Texas. Her husband, E.E. Ferrier, a retired college professor, died of cancer in March.
Kathleen Leos and Marina Tse, both associate deputy undersecretaries in the office of English-language acquisition, are handling the job of the head of the office until a new director is appointed.
Assistant Editor Mary Ann Zehr contributed to this report.
A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2005 edition of Education Week as Personnel Moves Pick Up at Ed. Dept.