Top education leader Brad Smith to take 90-day medical leave

Top education leader Brad Smith to take 90-day medical leave

(Ogden School District)

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SALT LAKE CITY — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad Smith will take a 90-day leave of absence to address health concerns, the Utah State Board of Education announced Friday.

Board spokeswoman Emilie Wheeler did not elaborate on Smith's condition but said he has dealt with chronic health challenges in recent weeks that are not considered life-threatening.

"There's every expectation that he will be back after those 90 days," Wheeler said.

In his absence, Sydnee Dickson, who has served as deputy superintendent at the state education office since late 2014, has been named acting superintendent. Dickson previously was state director of teaching and learning and an educator in several Utah school districts.

Rich Nye, associate superintendent of data, assessment and accountability, has been named acting deputy superintendent. Nye was hired by the State School Board last year after serving as a district administrator in the Ogden School District.

Wheeler said board leaders don't anticipate Smith's absence will pose significant challenges during Utah's 45-day legislative session, which convenes Jan. 25.

"The board is very supportive and has every confidence in Syd Dickson to do the job that Brad would have done," she said. "She has a lot of context; she has a lot of expertise. They're confident in her ability to do what needs to be done during the session."

Board Chairman David Crandall expressed support for Smith and those who will take on interim assignments.

"We wish Brad all the best while he is away," Crandall said in a prepared statement. "He has assembled a great team, and we have every confidence in Syd, Rich and other members of the superintendency."

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