New York education commissioner MaryEllen Elia is resigning, she announced Monday in a surprising addition to state education policymakers’ monthly agenda.
Elia told the Board of Regents on Monday that this month’s meeting would be her last and will serve through August. She did not publicly state her reason for resigning.
A spokesperson for the department said Elia is stepping down because of a “personal matter,” later specifying that it’s to pursue another “professional opportunity.” Elia’s resignation letter touted the work she and the Regents have focused on over the past four years but did not mention her reason for leaving.
“I really thank you for this opportunity and I thank you for the support and the work we have done,” Elia told the board.
The news appeared to be a shock to many members of the board. After Elia made the announcement, Chancellor Betty Rosa said the news “obviously caught us all off guard.” Rosa declined to comment further after the meeting.
Regent James E. Cottrell said the news came as a “total shock” and upset him. He said he thought the board had made positive strides under Elia’s leadership.
Elia, a longtime educator and former school superintendent in Hillsborough County, Florida, was chosen as New York’s education chief in 2015. Since then, the state has grappled with an overhaul in federal education law, school improvement, teacher evaluations, and graduation requirements. Elia has also advocated for the state and its students in meetings with national education leaders, including U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
This story will be updated.
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