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September 18, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

State Board of Education Narrows List of Commissioner Candidates to Three

TAMPA – The State Board of Education (SBE) today voted to accept three applicants from a pool of seven as finalists for the Florida Commissioner of Education position – Dr. Joseph Marinelli, Dr. Eric Smith and Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke.

The three finalists were chosen following in-depth interviews yesterday, which addressed the candidates’ commitment to public education/student-first philosophy, knowledge of standards-based education and successful education reform efforts, experience with diverse populations, leading and managing a complex organization and commitment to stakeholder engagement/partnerships.

Final interviews take place on October 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., allowing 30 to 45 minutes for each candidate. The interview location will be announced at a later date. Florida’s next Commissioner of Education will be chosen at the October 16 SBE meeting in Tallahassee.

The SBE hired PROACT Search, Inc., a national executive search firm, at the April board meeting to facilitate identification, screening, interviewing and selection of a candidate to match Florida’s needs and interests. The original applicant pool consisted of 32 candidates, with three withdrawing their applications and the SBE voting to decline five applications based on submittal of requested materials after the extended deadline.

Throughout the search, interested parties logged onto PROACT’s Web site to view information, such as position requirements, applicant data, interview questions, applicant search criteria and relevant deadlines. This information will continue to be updated and is available at or via the Department’s Web site at

The Commissioner of Education serves as the chief educational officer for the state and is responsible for providing full assistance to the State Board of Education in enforcing compliance with the mission and goals of Florida’s seamless preK-20 education system.