A top official at the Department of Education resigned Tuesday over an apparent dispute with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Politico reported.
James Runcie, the head of the Education Department's student aid office, resigned abruptly Tuesday night after DeVos asked him to testify before the House Oversight Committee about his department's rising levels of improper payment rate for federal student aid programs.
Runcie apparently believed he was the wrong person to testify on the matter and resigned after multiple requests from agency officials. He had previously refused requests from the House committee to testify, as well as requests from other officials at the Education Department.
An unnamed Education Department official told Politico that Runcie's resignation was baffling, with other Education employees confused about his reason.
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” the official said. “We don’t know.”
An email obtained by Politico said that Runcie "felt it was time to give an opportunity to someone else to provide leadership under a new Secretary of Education.”
Runcie joined the Department of Education in 2011 and became a source of controversy soon after. Runcie faced steep criticism for his work at the agency, taking heat from Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter FDA proposes rule to offer over-the-counter hearing aids MORE (D-Mass) and Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxStudents, not teachers unions, should be at the center of education Sixth House GOP lawmaker issued K metal detector fine Republicans unveil bill to ban federal funding of critical race theory MORE (R-N.C.) for his failure to stop "pervasive" abuse by federal student loan contractors.
“You are harming the people you are supposed to be helping, and that has to stop,” Foxx told Runcie in 2016.
Despite the criticism, the Obama administration reappointed Runcie to a five-year term in December. His reappointment was one of former Education Secretary Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanStripping opportunity from DC's children Catherine Lhamon will make our schools better, fairer, and more just Providing the transparency parents deserve MORE's final acts before leaving office.