The State Board of Education (SBE) has selected a new state superintendent of schools. Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston will take over the Michigan Department of Education in July. That’s when current state Superintendent Mike Flanagan will retire.
Whiston says he’s had a lot of success in Dearborn – and hopes to achieve similar goals statewide.
“We’ve raised student achievement, raised graduation rates, our budget’s in line,” he said after a final interview with the SBE Wednesday.
He previously worked as a lobbyist for the intermediate school district in Oakland County, where he faced some criticism for improper expenses, such as rounds of golf and expensive meals.
Whiston acknowledges the expenses were improper, but says it’s a mistake that he has put behind him.
“That’s what happens in this town, so it shouldn’t be held against me for doing what every lobbyist in Lansing does, which is build relationships,” he said. “And that’s my strength is building relationships.”
Whiston beat out two other finalists - Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel and Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch.
The Board of Education was split on the finalists just minutes before a final vote took place on Wednesday. It ultimately voted 7-1 in favor of Whiston, with Republican member Eileen Weiser voting ‘no.’ Weiser favored Menzel for the position, saying he was the only candidate she felt would take the department in a new direction.
SBE president John Austin will begin negotiating Whiston’s contract on behalf of the board.