State again searches for K-12 schools boss; interim leader Siddens now interested

Ohio is once again beginning the search for a state superintendent of public instruction — the top leader of Ohio’s K-12 schools — almost exactly a year after Paolo DeMaria stepped down.

The State Board of Education this week directed the Ohio Department of Education to ask new companies to apply to find the next state superintendent.

John Hagan, a state board member from Alliance, said at the end of the meeting he plans to propose a resolution to pick a new firm at the next meeting. Hagan said his plan is to try to find the next state superintendent as quickly as possible.

The state superintendent is the top administrator for ODE, which oversees the school funding system, develops academic standards, manages state achievement tests and school report cards, and handles licensing of teachers and other education personnel.

The state has been without a permanent state superintendent since DeMaria left in September 2021.

Stephanie Siddens served as interim superintendent after DeMaria left, through a controversial state board search process that resulted in the hiring of Steve Dackin as superintendent in June. But Dackin resigned after only a few weeks on the job, and Siddens has been back in that role since.

In the previous round of hiring for state superintendent, Siddens said she was not interested in being the next state superintendent and did not apply for the job. But state board of education President Charlotte McGuire said this week that Siddens has now expressed interest in taking the job.

“So that’s the one of the elephants in the room is yes, she wants to be considered permanently for the job,” McGuire said.

Siddens has been with ODE since 2006, serving as senior executive director of the Center for Student Supports and previously senior executive director of curriculum and assessment.

McGuire said she did not feel comfortable previously authorizing a search firm to look for the next state superintendent last year when the board went through this process because there were so many applicants.

Former Springboro Superintendent Larry Hook was one of three finalists for the job when Dackin was named, but ultimately Hook withdrew his name and moved on to the Forest Hills district in suburban Cincinnati.

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