Jeff Riley Recommended for DESE Commissioner

A nationwide search yielded the Lawrence Public Schools appointed receiver Jeff Riley as the next Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

From the DESE Press Release:

Board Recommends New Elementary and Secondary Commissioner

MALDEN – The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education today voted unanimously to ask Chair Paul Sagan to recommend Jeffrey C. Riley for the position of commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I am very pleased to recommend Mr. Riley to be the next commissioner,” Chair Paul Sagan said. “Jeff’s experience as receiver of Lawrence Public Schools, where he led great improvements in a collaborative way, and his history as an innovative educational leader who has found ways to close achievement gaps, will be an asset to Massachusetts and will help the state continue its successes and focus on our priority of providing greater equity in our schools.”

Mr. Riley was chosen in an 8-3 vote from among the three finalists who the Board interviewed last week and considered for the position. Under state law, the recommendation required a two-thirds majority vote of all members (Education Secretary James Peyser has a vote as a member of the Board), and the secretary decides whether to appoint the recommended candidate or ask the Board to submit another candidate for consideration.

“I would like to thank everyone who was part of this process, from the Preliminary Screening Committee members who narrowed the field to the three finalists to the educators, community members and stakeholders who gave us feedback on the candidates,” Education Secretary Peyser said.

“I am honored to be recommended for this position,” Mr. Riley said. “Massachusetts is a national leader in education, and I look forward to narrowing achievement gaps within the state and ensuring that all of our students have the support and opportunities they need to be successful.”

Mr. Riley has overseen the operation and improvement of 35 schools serving more than 14,000 students as the Lawrence Public Schools superintendent/receiver since 2012. Prior to that, he worked for Boston Public Schools as academic superintendent/chief innovation officer. Mr. Riley has worked in urban and suburban educational systems as a teacher in Baltimore, Md., administrator at High Tech Academy @ Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Boston and principal of Tyngsboro Middle School and Boston’s Edwards Middle School.

Once appointed, Mr. Riley will be ESE’s 24th commissioner. The Department’s last commissioner, Dr. Mitchell Chester, passed away unexpectedly in June 2017 while being treated for cancer. Since then, the agency has been led by Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, who did not apply for the permanent position.


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