Ohio’s state school board has picked a top education adviser to Republican Gov. John Kasich as the new superintendent of public instruction.
Richard Ross was selected over Acting Superintendent Michael Sawyers on Tuesday by a 10-6 vote of the State Board of Education. The two finalists arose from a list of 30 applicants from 14 U.S. states, New Zealand and Bangkok attracted in a national search.
Ross will oversee the Ohio Department of Education and help Kasich implement a new school-funding formula and other education reforms that Ross helped craft.
He’s currently director of the Governor’s Office for 21st Century Education, after previously serving as superintendent of the Reynoldsburg City Schools.
It’s the second time in as many years that the board has picked a new schools chief.
Final interviews took place Monday, a day ahead of the vote by the 19-member board.
Two years ago, after Superintendent Deborah Delisle left the job under political pressure, a search for her replacement ended in the surprise pick of Interim Superintendent Stan Heffner — after several candidates, including another Kasich education adviser, dropped out of the running.
Heffner ended up resigning about a year and a half into his tenure amid ethical questions about his relationship with an educational testing contractor. Inspector General Randall Meyer found he had used state email and cellphone accounts to land the job with the testing firm, assigned his state-paid executive secretary to book flights related to the job hunt and used state equipment to send documents for his new home purchase in Texas.
Ostensibly to avoid another embarrassing incident and a similarly short stay for its next superintendent, the bipartisan board voted unanimously to involve a professional consultant. The board hired Ray and Associates Inc. in a contract worth more than $42,000 in fees and estimated expenses.
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