Gov. Paul LePage has nominated acting Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson Jr. to take the job on a permanent basis.
Hasson has been acting commissioner of the department since November.
“Bob Hasson has demonstrated that he understands the one thing that matters most in education: Every decision should be made based on the best interest of our students,” LePage said.
“I am grateful to Gov. LePage and the State Board of Education for their confidence in me and for the opportunity to serve,” Hasson said. “I have had more fun leading the department these last several weeks than at any other time in my career, except for when I was teaching first grade. This is an important moment for our state to recommit to our students, to empower our teachers and leaders and to bravely dream about new possibilities that we wouldn’t have dared to imagine.”
Hasson was superintendent at MSAD 51, which covers Cumberland and North Yarmouth, from 1993 to 2013 and was the deputy executive director of the Maine School Management Association and executive director of the Maine School Superintendents Association.
He has a bachelors degree in elementary education from Saint Joseph’s College, a master’s in special education from Fitchburg State University and a doctorate from Boston College.
LePage initially nominated William Beardsley to be commissioner in January 2016, but withdrew his name after Democrats on the Legislature’s education committee indicated they might vote to block the appointment. At the time, LePage said he would take over some responsibilities of the job himself rather than subject his nominee to political scrutiny. The governor’s comments prompted criticism from Democrats, who accused LePage of circumventing the process for appointing state agency chiefs.
LePage took advantage of legislative loopholes to keep Beardsley in control of the department, including appointing other officials to the commissioner’s post who then would defer to Beardsley.
In November, LePage announced Hasson’s appointment and said Beardsley would continue serving as deputy commissioner. In a surprise announcement, Beardsley said he was stepping down in December.
Under Maine law, the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs must hold a confirmation hearing no more than 30 days after the governor’s nomination.