Another Luna staffer on the way out

Another member of outgoing state superintendent Tom Luna’s management team is leaving the State Department of Education.

Chief Information Officer Joyce Popp announced her departure Monday in an email to district superintendents and other education officials.

Wrote Popp: “It is with a heavy heart that I write this email. I have been informed that as Superintendent-Elect Sherri Ybarra takes office, I will no longer be a part of the Idaho State Department of Education team. While I respect the new administration’s ability to establish their own team, it saddens me that I will not be part of the ongoing work.”

Several key Luna staffers left during the 2014 election cycle, after Luna announced he would not seek a third term in office. That list included deputy chief of staff Jason Hancock, testing director TJ Bliss and spokeswoman Melissa McGrath.

The exodus continued after the election, as Chief of Staff Luci Willits left the department for a job with Smarter Balanced, the consortium creating tests aligned to the Common Core standards.

Earlier this year, Popp was among 22 State Department of Education staffers who shared in $151,000 in retention bonuses — which Luna awarded in hopes of keeping administrators on the job. Popp received $9,998.40, one of the largest bonuses awarded.


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