Politics & Government

Randy Dorn won’t seek re-election as state schools superintendent

Superintendent of Pubic Instruction Randy Dorn answers a question about education funding during the annual Legislative Preview hosted by the Associated Press in Olympia Jan. 10, 2014.
Superintendent of Pubic Instruction Randy Dorn answers a question about education funding during the annual Legislative Preview hosted by the Associated Press in Olympia Jan. 10, 2014. The Olympian

State schools chief Randy Dorn announced Thursday that he won’t seek a third term overseeing Washington’s public school system.

Dorn, who was elected as state superintendent of public instruction in 2008, said in a news release that he won’t seek re-election next year.

Dorn said he plans to continue working to improve education for Washington’s 1 million public school students, though he’s not sure what form that might take.

“I’ll keep all my options open,” Dorn said in a phone interview Thursday. “Wherever I believe I can truly make a difference for kids, I will pursue that option.”

Dorn didn’t rule out a run for governor or the Legislature in the future, though he wouldn’t confirm whether those were among the options he’s considering.

He expressed extreme frustration with the Legislature’s and Gov. Jay Inslee’s failure to develop a plan to fully fund basic education as ordered by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary school funding case.

Court justices found the state in contempt more than a year ago in the case and recently started imposing a fine of $100,000 per day to try and get the state to comply with the high court’s order.

Dorn said Thursday that he thinks if he continued as state schools chief, he would be “so tough on the Legislature and the governor to fulfill their oath of office” and follow the court’s orders that it would hurt his ability to work with them.

“I believe that my relationship with legislators and the governor would be so damaged that it would not be in the best interest of kids and the state agency, that there may be repercussions ... and I don’t think that would be fair,” Dorn said Thursday.

“By me stepping aside, I think there could be a new face and maybe new ideas that would come up.”

Several others have already expressed interest in the position.

State Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, announced in July that he will run for the state superintendent job in 2016. So far, Reykdal has raised more than $62,000 for his campaign, according to his latest filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Tacoma Public Schools official Erin Jones of Lacey also has declared her candidacy for state superintendent, while former state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, has said he is strongly considering running.

Jones has raised about $16,000 for her campaign so far, according to her latest campaign finance reports.

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