Asp to lead education department until new commissioner is found

Longtime Colorado educator Elliott Asp will lead the Colorado Department of Education until a permanent successor for outgoing Education Commissioner Robert Hammond is found.

The State Board of Education voted to appoint Asp as interim commissioner at their Wednesday meeting.

Asp most recently served as special assistant to the state education commissioner. He will fill in when Hammond’s retirement becomes official on June 25. Asp has indicated he will not seek the permanent position of education commissioner.

Board member Debora Scheffel was the sole vote against Asp’s appointment. She said that while she approved of Asp’s qualifications, the board had not had enough time to consider candidates for the interim position.

Hammond announced his retirement in late April.

At Wednesday’s meeting, vice chairwoman Angelika Schroeder choked back tears as she read a resolution thanking Hammond for his service.

The resolution reads in part, “The Colorado State Board of Education formally commends Robert K. Hammond for his outstanding service as Colorado Commissioner of Education, his indefatigable efforts to increase academic achievement, champion academic civil rights for all students and develop continuous improvement systems to benefit all educators, students, parents and communities across Colorado.”

Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond at his last State Board of Education meeting June 10. (Susan Gonzalez )

Asp joined CDE in November 2012 after retiring as Cherry Creek’s assistant superintendent for performance improvement. He previously held a similar position in Douglas County and also worked in Aurora and Littleton. He has worked in education for more than 35 years and has been a teacher and assistant principal.

At CDE, Asp has worked on projects related to assessment, accountability, educator effectiveness and the Colorado Growth Model. He has become a familiar figure at education meetings and at the Capitol explaining department work on those issues.

Steve Durham said he hopes no one at the department thinks they can slack off due to the lack of a permanent leader.

“I hope no one in the department or the new acting department that this is just housekeeping for the next six months, because it shouldn’t be,” Durham said.

Durham said he has received complaints from charter schools that need to be addressed promptly and that he hopes the department can move forward with new rules on student data privacy.

Hammond isn’t the only top executive leaving the department this month. Two of his deputies,  Keith Owen and Jill Hawley, are also leaving the department. The board thanked both at its meeting Wednesday.

Chalkbeat Capitol Editor Todd Engdahl contributed to this report.

Hammond resolution