Youngkin’s Top Education Official to Receive Full Year of Pay Despite Sudden Resignation After Disastrous Tenure

FILE - Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow gestures during news conference, May 19, 2022, in Richmond, Va. Balow, Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's superintendent of public instruction, announced her resignation Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in a letter to the governor that did not offer a specific reason for her departure. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

By Carolyn Fiddler

March 22, 2023

After suddenly and inexplicably resigning just 14 months into her tenure as Younkgin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow will be paid her full salary and compensated for benefits for the next year. Balow’s controversial tenure included problematic revisions to Virginia’s K-12 history standards and a departmental error that left the state’s public school’s scrambling to plug the resulting $201 million hole in their budgets.

Imagine abruptly quitting your job after 14 months of questionable performance and still making your full salary plus compensation for benefits.

This is essentially the sweetheart deal lined up for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s former Superintendent of Public Instruction, who suddenly resigned this month without explanation after barely more than a year on the job.

Former Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow announced her resignation on Feb. 28, but an investigation from the Richmond Times-Dispatch reveals that she’ll continue to receive regular payments equal to her salary for the next year, in addition to payouts for vacation and health insurance premiums.

Balow is slated to receive almost $300,000 of taxpayer money over the coming year despite having no responsibilities or obligations to the commonwealth; further, the severance agreement guaranteeing this money allows her to take other paying jobs.

The total payments Balow is slated to receive at taxpayer expense through March 9, 2024, add up to $298,760, the equivalent of her annual salary of $266,213 plus the benefits mentioned above.

Balow was appointed by Youngkin in January 2022, and her time in the position has been fraught with controversy. Under Balow’s leadership, Virginia’s Department of Education rejected an initial proposed version of the K-12 history standards that placed greater emphasis on Black and Native American lives and perspectives and instead submitted its own version rife with problematic errors and omissions. 

Her department also came under fire for issuing “model policies” that would restrict the rights of transgender students in Virginia schools. Balow attempted to paint student achievement in Virginia’s schools under Youngkin’s Democratic predecessor as abysmal via a report released last May, but a Washington Post analysis of the assessment that suggested its use of data was not only misleading, but actually showed that Virginia students performed at least as well as or better than students nationwide over the past several years.

More concretely, Balow’s Department of Education was responsible for a calculation error that resulted in a $201 million budget shortfall for Virginia schools over the current and upcoming fiscal years.

In Balow’s settlement agreement, neither she nor the state admit any wrongdoing. Youngkin has refused to answer questions regarding whether or not he requested Balow’s resignation.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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