by News Service of Florida staff
State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said Tuesday that she will be stepping down from her post on Jan. 8.
The decision, announced in a letter to state Board of Education members, marks a reversal from late October when Stewart reached agreement with the board to remain for another year.
“It is with bittersweet feelings that I submit my letter of resignation,” Stewart wrote.
Stewart, who has been commissioner since 2013, said she originally agreed to stay for another year in order to promote “a promising path to continuing achievement for our students” and to provide an orderly transition with the new governor.
“While those may have taken up to a year, in light of recent election results and announcements, it seems we have the capacity for both of these goals now,” she wrote. “Therefore, I am returning to my original plan of retiring effective Jan. 8.”
Stewart’s retirement marks the end of a 39-year career as an educator, where she served as a teacher, principal and administrator.
Marva Johnson, chairman of the state board, said Stewart “has dedicated her life to serving the people of Florida and ensuring that every student has the opportunity” to succeed. “Throughout her career, she has been a fearless champion for Florida’s students, and Florida is a national education leader due in large part to her service,” Johnson said in a statement.
The Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor, will select a new education commissioner. The Tampa Bay Times has reported that former House Speaker Richard Cocoran, R-Land O’Lakes, is a top contender for the job under incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis.