Zais served as S.C. Superintendent of Schools from 2011-2015 | Credit: U.S. Department of Education

S.C. Democratic leader says Zais should be “ashamed”

Former South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais will become President Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Education, following the resignation of Secretary Betsy DeVos.

DeVos announced she was quitting late Thursday. Her last full day is Friday, according to a Department of Education spokesperson. Zais will step into the cabinet-level position at the end of the Trump presidency as the number of administration officials handing in their resignations grows.

The departures have come in the days after Trump-supporting mobs ransacked the United States Capitol as Congress prepared to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people have died as a result of what Biden himself described as an insurrection by “domestic terrorists” at the Capitol.

DeVos, along with former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, cited Trump’s role inciting the violence in their resignations. A handful of White House staff have also quit, according to NY Mag.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson pointed to Wednesday’s riots when asked about Zais’ new temporary role.

“As someone who has worn a uniform in one of the branches of our military, he should be ashamed of himself for serving someone who supports sedition and treason against the United States of America,” Robertson told the City Paper.

Before he was elected in 2011, Zais was an officer in the U.S. Army and served as president of Newberry College. He was appointed to serve as deputy secretary under DeVos in May 2018.

In South Carolina, Zais’ single term in office was marked with controversy. Zais was criticized for refusing to accept federal education dollars and rejecting Common Core curriculum proposals — a federal edict many Republicans resisted at the time.

Zais also proposed eliminating state regulations over how schools should be staffed and caps on teacher workloads.

The proposals were opposed by some appointed education leaders.

As of Thursday night, 82 people had reportedly been arrested in connection with the mob violence that has claimed five lives. One of the rioters was shot by police, reportedly while trying to break through a barricaded door, and another Capitol Police officer collapsed from injuries sustained trying to hold the mob at bay and later died. Three others died from medical emergencies, according to authorities.