Ed Department’s Structure Undergoes Some Fine-Tuning But No Major Overhaul

John Mooney | October 6, 2014 | Education
Acting Commissioner David Hespe moves to fill several vacancies and adds new position, but refrains from drastic changes

Education Commissioner David Hespe
Six months on the job, acting state Education Commissioner David Hespe is moving a few key chairs in the state Department of Education to address some immediate needs, but said he will refrain from any major reorganization.

Hespe, in his second stint on the job, hasn’t made many shifts after being appointed in March, and said he was largely staying with the organizational structure created by his predecessor, former commissioner Chris Cerf.

But last week, he did move around nearly a dozen positions and personnel to address what he said were some coordination issues within the department, as well as fill new vacancies in the senior staff.

The only new position is a chief intervention officer to serve as coordinator of the four state-controlled districts, as well as a half-dozen others with significant interventions in place. Serving in the new post is Timothy Matheney, who was previously director of teacher evaluation.

“For those districts where we are directly engaged — the four state-controlled districts plus places like Trenton and Lakewood — I wanted better coordination of our services there,” Hespe said yesterday.

“Tim knows our schools well, he knows the department well, and he knows our initiatives well.”

In other changes, Hespe’s chief of staff, William Haldeman, was appointed also to serve as assistant commissioner in charge of administration and budget for the department.

Haldeman’s new double title came out the departure of assistant commissioner David Corso, whose functions included administration. Now, Corso’s responsibilities — including finance, facilities, and information technology — are to be split up among three different divisions.

Other senior staff changes announced last week include the appointment of Kimberley Harrington to be chief academic officer. Harrington had served in that capacity in an acting role for three months, since the departure of Tracey Severns.

Robert Bumpus, a former county superintendent and 30-year veteran of public education in South Jersey, was also named an assistant commissioner for field services, in charge of the department’s 13 county offices.

Other appointments include:

  • David Joye, director, Office of Budget and Administration
  • Glenn Forney, director, Office of State Monitors
  • James Palmer, director, Office of Project and Grants Management
  • Silvina Traba, director, Office of Legislative and External Affairs
  • Diana Pasculli, director, Office of Educator Policy and Outreach
  • Evan Linhardt, chief information technology officer
  • Patricia Morgan, a former assistant counsel in Gov. Chris Christie’s office, joined Hespe this spring as his chief of operations and legal affairs.

    Hespe said yesterday he doesn’t plan any other significant changes at this time in the $83 million department, except with the possibility of departures that would be common in any administration’s second term.

    Cerf’s appointments to other key assistant commissioner spots in charge of teacher quality, student performance and assessment, special services, and school innovation are all staying in place, at least for now, Hespe said.

    “I’m very happy with the team,” Hespe said. “It is a good solid team that is working well together. We have the right people doing the right things.”