Education Secretary Noe Ortega (Capital-Star Screen Capture).
Adding to a list of recent, high-profile departures, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Noe Ortega will leave his job on April 29, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said Friday.
Ortega is “taking this time to focus on family and to consider his next professional pursuit,” administration spokesperson Elizabeth Rementer told the Capital-Star. Ortega ascended to the top spot in 2020, replacing former state schools boss Pedro Rivera.
The news of Ortega’s planned exit comes on the same day that acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter is slated to depart her post as Pennsylvania’s top public health official.
The Democratic governor has tapped his deputy chief of staff, Eric Hagarty, to serve as the agency’s acting secretary as the administration heads into its final months.
Hagarty has overseen a number of education issues for the administration, including the state’s “Level Up” program, which steers additional state money to underfunded schools; the administration’s COVID-19 vaccine policy for teachers, and charter school reform efforts, the administration said.
In a statement, Wolf called Ortega, who previously served as the Education Department’s deputy secretary and commissioner of postsecondary and higher education, “a dedicated advocate for all students.” Ortega joined the agency in 2017 after serving as an administrator at the University of Michigan.
“It has been a tremendous honor to lead the Department of Education during an unprecedented moment in the history of the commonwealth and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments made and the resiliency demonstrated by the PDE team throughout my tenure,” Ortega said in a statement.
In that same statement, Hagarty said he’s “committed to continuing to support the governor for the remainder of his administration and to ensuring that his priorities for our education system are implemented, from pre-K to higher education as well as the libraries that serve as the bedrock of many communities.”
Capital-Star Staff Reporter Marley Parish contributed to this story.
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