Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley will resign after six years

Image courtesy of Office of Governor Baker/Flickr (licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By Stevie Massengale

Massachusetts K-12 education commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jeffrey Riley, has decided to step down next month after six years of service, citing personal reasons. Riley, in a letter to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said he would step down on March 15. He recommended deputy commissioner Russell Johnston, who served as the West Springfield school superintendent from 2010 to 2014, as acting commissioner.

Image courtesy of Office of Governor Baker/Flickr (licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In Riley’s resignation letter, he said, “On a personal level, my role as a son to aging parents requires more of my time, and my commitment to provide that support is not compatible with the demands of the commissioner’s job.” he went out to talk about new initiatives, such as Literary Launch, and stated that the Commonwealth deserves a commissioner who can commit on a quote “all in basis.” 

In 2022, he increased oversight on Boston public schools and nearly called for the state to take over the system — a report from the Education Department described deficiencies and issues within the state’s education system, such as aging facilities, late buses and student segregation

Riley cited how the COVID-19 pandemic was a very challenging time for his role as commissioner but is proud of multiple moments such as strides in the state early literacy education, advocating for universal school meals, stronger IEP procedures, early college programs, and implementing a new physical education and health curriculum. 

Gov. Maura Healey said in a press release, “We’re grateful for Commissioner Riley’s leadership to make sure Massachusetts continues to have the greatest schools in the country to support our incredible students and educators every step of the way, but particularly through the challenging years of the COVID-19 pandemic.” She went on to thank him for his years of service to the people of Massachusetts and wished him the best in the next chapter of his life.