New Alaska education commissioner appointee declines job

the Alaska State Capitol
The Alaska Capitol on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Nat Herz/Alaska Public Media)

Susan McKenzie has declined the role of commissioner for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed her to the position at the end of February. He announced Wednesday that she would not accept it.

In a statement, McKenzie said she will continue her work as the director of DEED’s Division of Innovation and Education Excellence. 

“Due to personal reasons, I’ve made the difficult decision to decline the offer of position as Commissioner,” she said.

McKenzie did not respond to a request for comment.

The State Board of Education will search for a new commissioner and forward a candidate to Dunleavy for his approval. The new commissioner will replace Heidi Teshner, who has been the interim commissioner since July. The previous commissioner, Michael Johnson, resigned in June.

McKenzie’s decision comes as state lawmakers weigh potential increases in funding to public schools, efforts to improve teacher retention and requiring more parental permission for sex education.

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