The Ohio Board of Education named Richard Ross the new state superintendent of public instruction today.
Ross, 63, is currently the lead education advisor for Gov. John Kasich. He served as superintendent of the Reynoldsburg school district in central Ohio for 20 years before retiring in 2008.
Since joining the Kasich administration last year, Ross has been responsible for many of the recent changes to Ohio education policy including new A-F school report cards, a new proposed school funding system and expansion of school vouchers, the third grade reading guarantee, revisions to Ohio’s new teacher evaluation system, and the Cleveland Plan.
Ross’s appointment links the Ohio Department of Education even more closely with Gov. Kasich and further smooths the path to implement many Kasich-backed education reforms. Members aligned with Kasich already make up a majority of the state Board of Education.
Kasich’s previous education advisor, Bob Sommers, had applied for the post in 2011, but withdrew his application after it became clear that, if appointed to the post, state lobbying laws would prevent him from having contact with the governor’s office for one year.
Kasich administration officials fixed that issue this time around by successfully lobbying lawmakers to change Ohio’s “revolving-door policy,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Ross was one of two finalists for the post. The other finalist was current acting state superintendent Michael Sawyers.
He replaces former state superintendent Stan Heffner.
Heffner resigned in August after the state inspector general found he had acted improperly by testifying in favor of legislation that could benefit a private education company for which Heffner planned to work and by having state employees help him with sell his house.
Ross starts work as state superintendent on March 25.