Missouri education commissioner to resign - KCTV5

Missouri education commissioner to resign

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State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, left, announced her departure Monday. She has served as head of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since 2009. (Facebook) State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, left, announced her departure Monday. She has served as head of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since 2009. (Facebook)
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said Monday that she plans to resign later this year, ending a tenure during which she repeatedly came under criticism as the state adopted new school accreditation standards and dealt with struggling districts.

Nicastro has been head of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since 2009, after previously serving as a school administrator. She said she will step down at the end of 2014.

In a written statement announcing Nicastro's departure, the department noted her tenure has included the implementation of new educational and classification standards for public schools. The department also adopted an initiative intended to push Missouri into a top 10 ranking for student achievement by 2020.

"This is exactly the right time both personally and professionally for a change in leadership," Nicasatro said in a written statement.

Nicastro had been frequently criticized by some state legislators and officials for her handling of high-profile issues, particularly during the past year.

An audit released last month faulted the department's process for hiring a consultant for a potential overhaul of the Kansas City School District. Some state lawmakers also have been upset with the way the department has handled a student-transfer law for unaccredited districts in the St. Louis area. Other lawmakers have been opposed to the agency's implementation of the Common Core educational standards.

One of Nicastro's most outspoken critics has been Democratic state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, of St. Louis.

Chappelle-Nadal said Monday that she was "ecstatic" to hear Nicastro was leaving, adding: "She made the right decision."

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