Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia on Monday announced her resignation as the state's top education official, leaving members of the Board of Regents “shocked” as they looked to each other in surprise.
The announcement came at the tail end of the public portion of the board's regular monthly meeting, but Elia said little aside from the fact that her resignation would be effective Aug. 31. She was scheduled to address members of the press later Monday afternoon.
Chancellor Betty Rosa, who leads the Board of Regents, said the announcement “caught us off guard” as a resignation letter was passed among the board members.
Elia has led the state Education Department since 2015, replacing John King Jr., playing a key role in the department's efforts to ease tensions over state tests, teacher evaluation and learning standards. Just Monday morning Elia and department staff outlined a major initiative to spend the next year “rethinking” the state's high school diploma requirements, an aggressive timeline that some regents questioned as too little time for such big changes. Now, the board will also be looking for a new leader for the department.
Elia had previously served as superintendent for 10 years of Hillsborough County Public Schools in and around Tampa, Florida.
Regent Beverly Ouderkirk, whose district includes the Capital Region and much of the North Country, had little to say after the announcement.
“I really don't have my thoughts,” she said as she left the meeting, adding that she was “shocked.”