Gov.-elect Tony Evers plans to appoint Carolyn Stanford Taylor as state superintendent, his Department of Public Instruction announced Thursday.
Stanford Taylor, who currently oversees DPI’s Special Education Team, will officially be appointed on Jan. 7 after Evers is sworn in as guv, per the announcement.
Evers had the option to call a special election to fill the seat. But by making the appointment, Taylor will fill out the remainder of Evers’ term, which ends in April 2021. DPI noted that option was last exercised after Superintendent Herbert Grover resigned in 1993 and then-Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed former Gov. Lee Dreyfus to lead the agency.
Stanford Taylor will be the state’s first African-American DPI superintendent.
“Carolyn is a dedicated, thoughtful leader, who puts the best interests of kids before all else,” Evers said. “She is known and respected throughout the education community for her commitment to equity and her work to help all students reach academic success.”
Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year gave Taylor the Virginia Hart Special Recognition Award, which is given in honor of Wisconsin’s first female cabinet member.
According to a biography prepared for the award, Taylor’s was one of the few families to integrate the schools in her native Marks, Miss. She then came to Madison in 1975 to attend the University of Wisconsin, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
In 1980, she became a teacher in Madison and a principal before joining DPI in 2001.
“I am blessed to be surrounded by the talented and devoted staff in the department, who care about the work they do to improve the lives of our state’s youth,” Taylor said. “I look forward to this opportunity, and know that together, we can continue to advance educational equity for all students.”