Eye on Education

Kasich Edu Adviser, Interim Superintendent Among Applicants to be next Superintendent of Public Instruction

Molly Bloom / StateImpact Ohio

Kasich education advisor Richard Ross presents the new school funding formula.

Last Friday was the application deadline for Ohio’s vacant Superintendent of Public Instruction job, and one of Governor John Kasich’s top education advisors has formally thrown his name in for consideration.

Richard Ross is currently director of the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education, and he helped come up with the recently proposed new school funding formula.

The state’s top K-12 education post is currently filled in an interim capacity by former deputy superintendent Michael Sawyers. Sawyers has also applied for the state superintendent post, as well as several other district superintendent positions in the Columbus area. 

According to the Columbus Dispatch, some say Ross has favorable odds because he has the backing of the Governor:

It is up to the 19-member state Board of Education to hire a superintendent, but the governor appoints eight of the state board members and has input. Sawyers also has applied, according to a Department of Education spokesman.

“After more than 35 years of working in education, I am excited to continue my work with the boys and girls of Ohio, and I hope I’m favorably considered,” Ross said in a statement, confirming his application.

Ann Jacobs, a Republican and elected school board member from Lima who’s been at odds with Kasich, said “of course” Ross will be hired “because he’s a Kasich guy.”

When the Board was last searching for a superintendent in 2011, Kasich’s then top education advisor Robert Sommers applied, but was told he should withdraw his name because of the state’s “revolving door” law.

Since Sommers had worked for the Governor’s office immediately before, the revolving door law would have meant he could not interact with the Governor’s office if he were chosen to be the next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

But the Dispatch reports Kasich’s administration has since worked to clear the way for Ross so the same thing won’t happen.

Team Kasich added language to Senate Bill 314 last year clarifying that someone like Ross (or in the previous case, Sommers) could in fact interact with Kasich’s office on behalf of another state agency without violating ethics laws.
An “educational executive search” company – Ray and Associates – has been hired to lead the search process and sift through the more than 30 applications.



About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »