Why Colorado’s education commissioner quit

Colorado’s Commissioner of Education announced Thursday he is quitting after just four months in the position. The job was more than Rich Crandall could handle, according to a joint statement from the board and him.

Crandall’s resignation takes effect immediately, according to a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Education, although it must still be formally accepted by the Board of Education. That will likely happen Friday, when the board meets to appoint an interim commissioner, according to a department news release.

Crandall officially stepped into the job on January 19 of this year, after being named the sole finalist by the board earlier in the month. The board approved his hiring on a 7-0 vote.

Crandall is a former Arizona state senator who served six years before resigning to take the helm at the Wyoming Department of Education, a job he started in July 2013, overseeing 91,000 students statewide. Crandall was appointed by the governor but the state’s Supreme Court said in January 2014 that the governor did not have the authority to appoint what had previously been an elected position. Crandall left Wyoming in April, 2014 and returned to Arizona, where he owns a nationwide company that provides consulting dieticians to assisted living and long-term care facilities.

The Colorado Board of Education hired Crandall despite his lack of significant management experience in education. Prior to his time in Wyoming, Crandall’s most-closely related educational role was as chair from 2005 to 2008 of the Mesa Public Schools (AZ) Board of Education, a district with 69,000 students. He acknowledged in his job application he has never worked as a teacher or principal.

In announcing his departure, Crandall cited family responsibilities and the demands of the job.

“The realities of my large family being out of state, including school age children, as well as the demands of the position and the time required to fully serve a state as diverse and expansive as Colorado, lead me to this decision,” Crandall said.

That same news release included a statement from board Chair Steve Durham, which said that while he appreciated the importance Crandall put on family needs, he also recognized his own “professional and personal limitations in this demanding position.”

According to Chalkbeat Colorado, Crandall’s resignation comes on the heels of a number of departures in the department. A year ago, it lost its deputy commissioner, associate commissioner in charge of assessments, its top administrative officer and its communications chief. The department still has not filled several of those positions.

The board’s chair in 2015, Marcia Neal, also quit a year ago, citing a “dysfunctional” board.

Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, told The Colorado Independent Thursday that the appointment of an interim commissioner will be critical in the days to come.

The lack of experienced staff in some areas is a huge problem, Dallman said, particularly with implementation deadlines looming, some tied to the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind.

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.


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