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Name: Delisle, Deborah
Current Position: Former Assistant Secretary

A former elementary school teacher has been nominated by President Obama to be the next Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education. Deborah S. Delisle, who has stated her “firm belief that a zip code should never predetermine the quality of a child’s education,” was nominated on January 23, but the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has yet to schedule her confirmation hearing.


Born in Connecticut in September 1953, Delisle earned a B.S. in Education at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and an M.Ed. in Special Education at Kent State University in 1986. Delisle began her career as an elementary teacher in Connecticut in the 1970s, relocated to Ohio in 1983, and has served in many roles over the years at the school district level, including as School Principal, Director of Academic Services, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, and Coordinator of Gifted and Talented Programs.


From 2001 to 2003, she served as Associate Superintendent for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District (CHUHSD) in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, and as Superintendent from March 2004 to 2008. She then served as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education from October 2008 to April 2011. The end of her tenure was controversial, for her resignation letter charged that Republican Governor John Kasich forced her out by threatening her with dismissal. In a show of support and appreciation, in August 2011 CHUHSD named a building in her honor, the Deborah S. Delisle Educational Options Center, which houses the district’s registration and assessment office for transfer students and an alternative high school.


Delisle has served on several education boards, including the Governing Board of the Minority Student Achievement Network, Executive Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Board. In addition to working in primary and secondary education, Delisle has taught graduate level courses at Kent State, Ursuline College, the University of North Colorado and Simon Frasier University in British Columbia.


She is married to Dr. James R. Delisle, a retired professor of education who specializes in issues related to gifted children. They have one son, Matt, now an adult.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Former Ohio Schools Chief Deb Delisle Explains What Ohio Can Teach the Nation (by Molly Bloom, NPR/State Impact)

State Schools Superintendent Deborah Delisle Resigns (by Karen Farkas, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Meet Deb Delisle, Ohio’s New Superintendent (by Deborah Delisle, Columbus Parent)

Deborah Delisle Named State’s New Education Chief (by Karl Turner, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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