Florida Education Board Names Interim Commissioner

Judy Hartnett's picture
Friday, August 3, 2012

The State Board of Education on Thursday tapped Florida's current public schools chancellor to serve as the state's interim education commissioner and began searching for a permanent replacement.

During an emergency meeting, the panel unanimously appointed Pam Stewart to take over on Aug. 31, when Gerard Robinson's resignation takes effect.

Robinson on Tuesday announced he was leaving the $275,000 job after just 13 months. He cited the challenge of living far apart from his family in Virginia, where he had been education secretary before taking the Florida job.

His brief tenure has been marked by turmoil over tougher standards that have dropped scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and lowered school grades. He has denied, though, that Gov. Rick Scott, the board or its chairwoman, Kathleen Shanahan, forced him out.

"I'm sorry to see him go, but I totally understand the circumstances in terms of being an active and involved daily parent in his children's lives and with his wife back in Virginia," Shanahan said.

Robinson's wife is a tenured law professor at the University of Richmond, but she was unable to land a similar job in Tallahassee. The Robinsons have two young daughters.

His predecessor, Eric Smith, resigned under pressure from Scott shortly after the Republican governor took office in January 2011. While the governor has no formal role in the hiring of education commissioners he has the power to appoint board members.

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