Ohio picks Steven Dackin as its new chief of K-12 education

Former State Board of Education member Steve Dackin is the new chief of K-12 public instruction.

The State Board of Education voted 14-4 Tuesday to choose Dackin, who served on the board through February, Ohio’s new state superintendent of public instruction.

That means he oversees the education of 1.8 million students, the academic standards of development and the licensing of teachers. The position has been held on an interim basis by Stephanie Siddens since Pauoo DiMaria retired in September 2021.

Dackin’s appointment will “take us forward with positive changes for Ohio’s education system,” Board President Charlotte McGuire said after the vote.

Who is Dackin?

Dackin served as the superintendent of Reynoldsburg City Schools from 2007-2014.

While he was there, the district started allowing students to open enrollment in neighboring districts. A detail he touted as part of his school choice credentials during the interview process.

More: Should Ohio school districts be required to accept students who live elsewhere?

After Reynoldsburg, Dackin served as superintendent of the school and community partnerships for Columbus State University until December 2021.

He was a past finalist for the state superintendent’s job in 2011.

A fair process?

But Dackin’s appointment was not without controversy.

The former school board vice president led the search for his new position up until a few days before the application window closed. He even resigned from Columbus State to focus on the state superintendent’s search.

But then he also resigned from the board. That letter was submitted on Friday, February 25, the following Monday, the day before the application deadline, Dackin applied for the superintendent job.

Where he stands

Republican Govs. John Kasich and Mike DeWine directed Dackin to the state school board, which has 11 elected members and eight appointees.

Dackin became its vice president last fall after two other DeWine appointees resigned over an anti-racist resolution.

The board passed Resolution 20 in the summer of 2020, a few weeks after George Floyd’s assassination. But the language quickly drew from the parents and conservative lawmakers who demanded it be repealed and replaced.

Dackin voted to repeal the anti-racism resolution and remain on the board. Laura Kohler and Eric Poklar didn’t.

Anna Staver is a reporter with the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. It serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations throughout Ohio.

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