Michigan State Superintendent

Brian Whiston, State Superintendent, Michigan Department of Education
Dearborn Public Schools

State Superintendent Brian Whiston, who led the Michigan Department of Education since 2015, has died. He was 56.

The department said Whiston died Monday evening at his home, surrounded by family. He had gone on long-term disability leave Friday after being treated for cancer since last fall.

State education board co-presidents Casandra Ulbrich and Richard Zeile issued a statement Tuesday calling Whiston a "wonderful person who devoted his life to serving others." They say his vision to make Michigan a top 10 education state will endure.

flickr.com

The debate over publicizing A-to-F grades for every public school in Michigan is not entirely over, despite the surprise decision by top education officials to back off the proposal.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston will default to report cards without any letter grades, to replace color-coded marks that have been criticized.

But the caveat remains that the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder could still decide that letter grades should be issued.

It will be a tough sell.