Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will be filling some key staff positions when he begins his second term on Monday.
Rich Zeiger, Torlakson’s chief deputy superintendent, announced his retirement last month, effective when his successor is named. Jeannie Oropeza, the deputy superintendent who oversaw 2,400 employees while directing personnel, accounting and information systems for the Department of Education, starts Monday as the new head of human resources for the state Senate. And Craig Cheslog, a principal adviser to Torlakson, is leaving to work on education issues for Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit.
Zeiger, who managed the department for Torlakson, served as his chief of staff when Torlakson served in the state Senate and Assembly. In a note to employees, Torlakson said that Zeiger would continue to work part time, representing him on the boards of the California State Teachers Retirement System, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Last summer, Torlakson lost another key administrator when Deb Sigman, the deputy superintendent who ran the assessment and accountability division, left to become a deputy superintendent at the Rocklin Unified School District. Keric Ashley has replaced her as interim deputy superintendent. However, Sigman continues to serve on the executive committee of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is providing standardized tests for the Common Core State Standards.
Ted Lempert, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Children Now, said Torlakson’s choice of appointees will be important. “Zeiger’s and Sigman’s positions are critical to ensuring that California’s slate of new, major reforms will benefit every child in the state,” he wrote in an email.