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Pam Stewart named state education commissioner

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the state Board of Education tapped interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to lead the department on a permanent basis.

"I’ve spent 32 years in Florida’s public education system in one way or another, so I am fully committed to the students in the state of Florida and making sure we get it right," Stewart said after accepting the gig.

Stewart had been interim commissioner since Tony Bennett resigned in August. She also served as interim following the 2012 departure of former commissioner Gerard Robinson.

Board member John Colon made the motion to slide Stewart into the permanent job.

"Pam has served as interim commissioner now more than once and I think she’s been a steady hand, considering all of the handicaps she’s been going through," he said. "I, for one, would like some continuity here on this board and at the Department of Education."

Said board member Barbara Feingold: "Sometimes timing is everything, and the time seems to be right now for Pam. This is a critical year."

Board member Kathleen Shanahan also gave her support, but asked Stewart to speak to the chain of command. 

"We all know that we serve many masters," Stewart replied. "But ultimately, this board is the boss."