Pennsylvania Education Secretary to resign, named replacement

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Department of Education Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega will resign his position with the commonwealth on April 29.

The governor also announced his intention to name Eric Hagarty to serve as Acting Secretary.

“Noe is a dedicated advocate for all students and I’m grateful for his service to our commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said. “He led the department through unprecedented times, ensuring a safe return to in-person learning and providing access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines. His successful efforts to diversify our educator workforce and improve opportunities for students to obtain postsecondary education opportunities will undoubtedly continue to impact our learners for years to come.”

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Prior to Secretary, Ortega served as the Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education (OPHE) at PDE. The Wolf administration did not immediately announce the reason behind Dr. Ortega’s resignation.

“It has been a tremendous honor to lead the Department of Education during an unprecedented moment in the history of the commonwealth and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments made and the resiliency demonstrated by the PDE team throughout my tenure,” Secretary Ortega said. “Thank you, Governor Wolf, for the opportunity to lead the department. Together, we worked tirelessly to ensure that every learner in Pennsylvania has access to a high-quality and equitable educational opportunity.”

dr Ortega is the second member of the Wolf administration to resign this week following the resignation of the Department of Health Acting Secretary Keara Klinepeter on April 18 as she prepares for the birth of her first child.

Following Secretary Ortega’s departure, Hagarty will serve in the acting position. Hagarty currently serves as Governor Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff responsible for implementing the governor’s priorities and relating policies to education, including the historic “Level Up” program to invest more in Pennsylvania’s most chronically underfunded schools, the COVID-19 vaccine initiative for teachers and the safe return to in-person learning, the first regulatory reforms to Pennsylvania’s charter school system, and generational investments in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

“It has been an honor working closely with Governor Wolf since the start of his administration and with Secretary Ortega as well as former Education Secretary Pedro Rivera for the last several years. I’m committed to continuing to support the governor for the remainder of his administration and to ensure that his priorities for our education system are implemented, from pre-K to higher education as well as the libraries that serve as the bedrock of many communities. I look forward to working even more closely with the hard-working and dedicated staff at the Department of Education,” Hagarty said. “Thank you, Governor Wolf and Secretary Ortega, for your leadership and for your commitment to our commonwealth’s learners and educators.”

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