Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 9:46 AM
The head of the Ohio Department of Education division responsible for school accountability, including producing school report cards, has resigned.
Bill Zelei's resignation comes in the midst of investigations into whether Ohio schools have improperly manipulated student attendance data and whether the state education department bears responsibility for any wrongdoing. The investigations have led to a delay in releasing school report cards this year.
In an email to Department of Education staff, Zelei writes that he is leaving the department to serve as Executive Director of the Ohio Schools Council, a shared services and purchasing consortium. He writes that his mother's illness and a desire to move closer to her "ultimately influenced" his decision to resign.
Zelei announced his resignation in an Aug. 6 email to department staff. [Read the full email below.] Zelei's announcement came two days after Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner announced his own resignation. Heffner's resignation, in turn, came after the state Inspector General found Heffner had improperly lobbied for a private company.
Zelei's resignation was first reported Monday by liberal blog Plunderbund.
Zelei, a former superintendent and school district business manager, began working for the Ohio Department of Education in November. Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton said Zelei plans to work through the end of September, but has not yet specified his final day.
John Charlton also said Zelei's departure was not related to the ongoing data rigging investigation. In his email, Zelei writes that he had been offered his new position "months ago."
Zelei serves on the board of trustees of ideastream, the Cleveland-based public media organization that oversees StateImpact Ohio in partnership with public radio stations WKSU and WOSU.
Earlier this year, the state official overseeing school report cards also resigned. Adrian Allison, who served as senior executive director for the Ohio Department of Education Center for Accountability and Continuous Improvement, resigned this spring. He now works for the Canton City school district as an assistant superintendent.
From: Zelei, William
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2012 11:49 AM
Subject: Thank you!!!
It is with a fair amount of sadness that I am announcing my resignation from the position of Associate Superintendent.
A number of months ago, I was asked to assume the position of Executive Director of the Ohio Schools Council, a shared services, purchasing consortium serving hundreds of school districts throughout the state of Ohio. The decision to leave the ODE was difficult and took many months of consideration. I truly enjoy and respect all of you and all of my colleagues at ODE, and truly enjoy the work of improving systems and programs to benefit the students of the state of Ohio. I especially appreciate the opportunity to have worked with Stan Heffner, Michael Sawyers, Jim Herrholtz, John Childs, Kathy Shibley, Sasheen Phillips, Lori Lofton and the rest of the leadership team.
My Mom's recent illness ultimately influenced me to accept the leadership position with the Ohio Schools Council. Moving home, to be closer to her, seems to be an appropriate thing to do at this time, even though it means leaving work that I believe is very valuable and leaving people with whom I have enjoyed working.
And while leaving will be difficult, I know that, having served as a member of the Ohio Schools Council's Board of Directors for a number of years, my new work will create opportunities to further expand services in support of school districts, student instruction and the success of students in the state of Ohio.
I will miss you all, as I have been so fortunate to create so many wonderful, professional relationships during my short tenure at ODE. I have assured Stan that I will remain with the Department until other arrangements can be made. I will also be available to provide whatever assistance might be necessary, even after my departure.
Thank you for your support and for your work on behalf of the kids of Ohio. I truly hope that our paths will cross again, as we continue to create a better tomorrow for the children of Ohio.
I will miss you all!
William J. Zelei; Ed.D.
Division of Accountability and Quality Schools Ohio Department of Education