The official who heads the Oregon Department of Education stepped down Wednesday. Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Salam Noor had been appointed to the job by Gov. Kate Brown in 2015.
An announcement from the Governor’s Office did not elaborate on the reason for Noor’s sudden departure. In his “resignation” letter, Noor did not say why he was leaving.
"This has been an amazing experience and I am honored to have served Oregon in this important role," he wrote. "I am confident that our efforts have provided a strong foundation and momentum for continuing improvement for education in Oregon."
Brown appointed Colt Gill as an as an acting replacement for Noor, effective immediately. Gill was already serving as Brown’s “education innovation officer.”
He previously served as the superintendent of the Bethel School District near Eugene.
The governor’s office said it will soon launch a search for a permanent deputy superintendent.
For much of Oregon’s history, the head of the Oregon Department of Education was an elected office. That changed in 2011, when Oregon lawmakers made it a position appointed by the governor.
In her press release, Brown also released a letter she sent to the state's other education agencies, including those responsible for overseeing higher education and early childhood education. She said she was directing them to develop a "unified education budget" for the next budget cycle, and to step up their efforts to increase Oregon's graduation rate.
The governor's announcement drew immediate criticism from Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, who called it "political panic" on the part of the Democratic incumbent.
"She’s had three years to fix the funding and quality of Oregon schools and she’s failed to lead," said Buehler.