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State Board Elects Co-Presidents

January 10, 2017

LANSING – With a bipartisan board consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans, the State Board of Education today elected co-presidents – one from each party. 

Casandra Ulbrich and Richard Zeile were elected on 6-0-2 votes by the State Board members. Board members Eileen Weiser and Lupe Ramos-Montigny each abstained from the vote.

Tom McMillin was elected treasurer for the State Board, Michelle Fecteau was elected secretary, and Nikki Snyder was elected as the board’s delegate to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Both Zeile and Ulbrich said they are honored to be elected as co-presidents and look forward to working together to lead the State Board of Education.

“I want to express my deep respect for Casandra,” Zeile said. “I think that she has been principled and clear and well thought out, and I do believe we’ll find a lot of common ground. I look forward to a very positive two years, as we work with the Superintendent and the Department of Education. When a board does its work well, you never make the news, and so I’m looking forward to two very quiet years.”

Ulbrich said: “I think we’ve got a robust agenda coming forward with the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) and all the important policy work on our agenda, and so far, I’m really impressed by the way the group is working together. I foresee a lot of good things coming around this year, and I think Richard is going to do a great job.”

The State Board bylaws were amended in 2006 to allow for the election of co-presidents when the board also had a 4-4 bipartisan board.

Republicans McMillin and Nikki Snyder were elected to the State Board of Education in November 2016 to create the balanced State Board.

Weiser noted that she abstained from the vote because she wanted to not have a board president, or co-presidents, and have the State Board just work as a Committee of the Whole. Ramos-Montigny said she abstained because she believed the two new members of the State Board should get to know and learn about the other members of the board, the State Superintendent, and the Michigan Department of Education before being asked to vote for board officers.