COLUMBUS — Ohio's top education official resigned Saturday amid ethics questions about his work for an educational testing contractor.
Stan Heffner's two-sentence letter was released by the state Education Department and said he would leave Friday.
Mr. Heffner will be replaced on an interim basis by deputy Superintendent Michael Sawyers.
Mr. Heffner submitted his resignation just two days after Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer released results of a year-long investigation that indicated Mr. Heffner had lobbied Ohio lawmakers on legislation likely to benefit a standardized-testing firm with which he had accepted a job.
Mr. Heffner was the state's interim superintendent at the time and was within days of leaving to join Education Testing Service in Texas when he accepted a permanent role as Ohio's superintendent.
After saying Thursday that he wouldn't quit — and after receiving the backing of Republican Gov. John Kasich — Mr. Heffner issued an emailed statement Saturday in which he said he was leaving "because I don't want opponents of reform to be able to twist mistakes I've made into roadblocks to Ohio's reform efforts."
He called his departure a "retirement resignation."
Mr. Kasich said it was the right move.
"His mistakes in judgment were unfortunate, but I respect him for always putting Ohio's students above everything else, including his own interests," Mr. Kasich said via email.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said last week that he would review the allegations against Mr. Heffner to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Saturday that Mr. Heff- ner shouldn't be allowed to stay in his job. "Instead of permitting Heffner to pick his own day of departure, Governor Kasich should finally show some leadership by calling for a criminal investigation, firing Heffner, and prohibiting him from collecting' a paycheck," Mr. Redfern said.
Mr. Heffner had apologized Thursdayfor his actions.
The inspector general also found that Mr. Heffner used his state-issued cell phone and email to land the job with the testing service and he said that Mr. Heffner had directed his executive assistants at the Department of Education to handle personal affairs on state time. The work included his planned move from Ohio to Texas.
The inspector general urged the 19-member state school board, which hires and fires the superintendent, to consider whether Mr. Heffner should be disciplined. He asked the panel to report back to him within 60 days.
Board chairman Debe Terhar said in response that the issue would be taken up at the board's next meeting.
Mr. Heffner recently was involved in a local school issue.
The state education department formally notified Toledo Public Schools in late July that it has launched an investigation into whether TPS has "improperly manipulated" its data.
The investigation was ordered after TPS Superintendent Jerome Pecko admitted to The Blade that schools retroactively withdrew and re-enrolled chronically absent students to erase their poor attendance records.
Reporting inaccurate data to improve school test scores is against the law, Mr. Heffner wrote in a letter to Mr. Pecko. Schools and districts found to have falsified data could lose state funding, and employees could lose their educator's licenses.
"This was not done to help students but to help adults, and that's a case of misplaced priorities," Mr. Heffner wrote. "Dishonest actions like these may inflate results but are unacceptable and will not be tolerated."