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Lamont appoints acting education commissioner

Charlene Russell-Tucker has been deputy commissioner for the agency

HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday that he has accepted the recommendation of the Connecticut State Board of Education to appoint Charlene Russell-Tucker to serve as acting commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education. 

The board voted Wednesday to recommend Russell-Tucker for the position following the resignation Tuesday of Dr. Miguel Cardona, who was confirmed earlier this week by the U.S. Senate to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

Russell-Tucker most recently served as deputy commissioner of the state agency, which she will lead on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made. As deputy commissioner, she has been responsible for overseeing educational supports and wellness priorities.

“The strength of Connecticut’s future is dependent upon the strength of our schools today, and that is why our administration has set such strong goals when it comes to improving outcomes for our next generation so they are prepared to fill jobs that lead them through successful careers,” Lamont said.

“I am humbled and grateful to Governor Lamont and the State Board of Education for placing their confidence in me to serve Connecticut’s students, families, and educators in this role,” Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “I will use this opportunity to continue to advance the work of the agency and our educational partners to ensure a seamless transition once a permanent commissioner is named.”

Prior to her appointment as deputy commissioner in November 2019, Russell-Tucker served as chief operating officer and division chief for the State Department of Education’s Office of Student Supports and Organizational Effectiveness.

She also served as associate commissioner of education and bureau chief at the agency, overseeing a portfolio of programs and services that included student health, family and community engagement, nutrition and safety, magnet and charter schools, adult education, and special education.

State Senator and Co-Chari of the Education Committee, Doug McCrory (D-Hartford), released a statement on Russell-Tucker's appointment: 

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-existent academic achievement gap in Connecticut. It is important our response to the impact this pandemic has had on students and schools be centered around equity in resources and improving education opportunity for students so they can become 21st century leaders. Now-Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker brings a significant amount of professional experience, a value for community engagement, and over 15 years as an educator, which will serve her well in leading the Connecticut Department of Education during this critical period. I look forward to continuing to work with Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker in her elevated leadership role on public policy and programs that will allow all students to thrive and for our schools to be able to meet the needs of their students and teachers.”

Earlier Wednesday, Cardona was joined by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for a tour of Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Meriden.

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