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Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction resigns

Jillian Balow's resignation is effective Thursday, March 9.

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, announced that she is resigning.

The Commonwealth's chief school officer sent a letter Wednesday morning to Governor Glenn Youngkin.

"I am grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve the children and families of Virginia and I continue to strongly support you and your vision for education in Virginia. I am particularly proud of the fact that we advanced your agenda for education over the past two successful General Assembly sessions," Balow wrote in her letter, which the department shared in a news release.

She also praised Youngkin, saying that "more than any other contemporary conservative elected official, I believe you have reinstated the importance of providing quality education and I know that many other states are eager to follow your lead."

Balow's resignation is effective Thursday, March 9. In her letter, she did not give a specific reason for her resignation.

The Department of Education has faced criticism for recent missteps, including an error in a mathematical formula the agency provides to local K-12 school divisions that led schools to expect more state funding than they were set to receive.

Youngkin's press office did not respond to a question from The Associated Press about whether the governor asked Balow to step down, instead offering a one-sentence statement.

"The Governor thanks Superintendent Balow for her service to the Commonwealth and her work in advancing the Governor's education agenda to empower parents and restore excellence in education," spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said.

Youngkin campaigned heavily on educational issues, a focus that was seen as key to his victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in 2021. Since taking office, he has signed legislation to end classroom mask mandates, issued reports on "divisive concepts " and falling student achievement; and sought to expand school choice, facing pushback from Senate Democrats.

At the same time, he's expressed disappointment in the various department missteps. He called the funding calculation error "frustrating for all of us" in a letter to legislative leaders.

The education department has also faced criticism for its proposed rewrite of the state's history standards, which Youngkin acknowledged contained "omissions and mistakes."

Balow issued a public apology for part of the standards that referred to Native Americans as "America's first immigrants."

In her resignation letter, which did not address any of those issues, Balow indicated that she planned to stay in Virginia for the foreseeable future. She wrote that she appreciated an apparent offer to continue to work with the administration as a consultant.

Balow took office the day Youngkin was sworn in. She had previously twice been elected as Wyoming's state superintendent.

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