Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin

The Superintendent of Public Instruction, sometimes referred to as the State Superintendent of Schools, is a constitutional officer within the executive branch of the Wisconsin state government, and acts as the executive head of the Department of Public Instruction.[2] The State Superintendent is elected by the people of Wisconsin in a nonpartisan statewide ballot during the spring primary six months after the presidential election with one justice of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. The State Superintendent serves a term of office of four years. The incumbent is Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who was appointed by her predecessor Tony Evers who resigned to take office as Governor of Wisconsin.[3][4] Superintendents have been elected in non-partisan elections since 1902; before that, Superintendents were elected by party like other state executive officers.[5]

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction
Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin
Details of Office
Selection:Statewide election
Term:4 years
Name:Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Term ends:2021


The State Superintendent has broad responsibility for the general supervision of public schools. S/he ascertains the condition of Wisconsin’s public schools, stimulates interest in education, and promotes the sharing of means and methods employed in improving schools.[6] For instance, the State Superintendent has the duty to supervise and inspect public schools and day schools for disabled children, advise local principals, and offer assistance in organization and reorganization.[7] The State Superintendent also publishes an array of reports, bulletins and other media for the dissemination of information on public schools, including on school organization, attendance, management practices, and performance.[8]

Furthermore, the State Superintendent audits the accounts of Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs) organized in Wisconsin, supervises boundary reorganization, advises CESA administrators, and provide assistance in organizing CESA agencies.[9] Appeals from school districts and CESAs are adjudicated by the State Superintendent as well.[10] Likewise, the State Superintendent licenses teachers and certifies school nurses practicing in Wisconsin, oversees and promotes public libraries, approves all driver education courses offered by school districts and like units of government, and acts as agent for the receipt and disbursement of federal and state aids to school districts.[11][12][13][14][15]

Aside from his or her routine functions, the State Superintendent holds an annual convention of school district administrators and CESA coordinators.[16] In addition, the State Superintendent is a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, and the Higher Educational Aids Board.[17][18][19] In the case Thompson v. Craney, 199 Wis. 2d 674, 546 N.W.2d 123 (1996), the Supreme Court of Wisconsin declared that the Governor of Wisconsin could not reallocate or diminish the powers of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction by appointing a new Secretary of Education in charge of a Department of Education.[20][21]

See also


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