Alaska Education Commissioner Mike Hanley steps down

Mike Hanley is leaving his position as Alaska's education commissioner, education officials said Wednesday.

Hanley, a holdover from Gov. Sean Parnell's administration, started working as the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development in February 2011. He previously worked as an Anchorage School District elementary school principal from 2005 to 2011, and before that as a teacher in ASD.

Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent Bill Hutton and John Harmon, a member of the State Board of Education an Early Development, said Wednesday they received phone calls from state officials about Hanley's imminent departure. A spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker, Katie Marquette, didn't respond to a request for comment; neither did Eric Fry, the education department's spokesman. James Fields, the chair of the education board, said he would not comment Wednesday night.

Other officials said an announcement would be made Thursday.

Hanley declined to comment when reached Wednesday afternoon on any changes in his job. He also said to expect an announcement from Walker's office Thursday.

It was unclear Wednesday whether Hanley was quitting on his own, or had been asked to resign.

"I appreciate Commissioner Hanley's past few years of service," Harmon said in an email. "He is a man of great integrity and I wish him well."

Hutton said he was disappointed to hear the news.

"He's a very honest, ethical leader with really good skills and really has a heart for the kids across the state," he said.

The state education department has recently come under fire for a new statewide standardized test, called the Alaska Measures of Progress, which produced reports that educators called too vague to inform instruction. Hanley announced last week that the department would replace the exam.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.