William Harner

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William Harner
William Harner.jpg
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education
Former officeholder
In office
June 1, 2013 - August 26, 2013
PredecessorRonald Tomalis
Base salary$142,310
Elections and appointments
AppointedMay 22, 2013
Appointed byGov. Tom Corbett (R)
Term limitsN/A
High schoolCheltenham High School (1974)
Bachelor'sU.S. Military Academy at West Point
Master'sUniversity of South Carolina
Ph.D.University of South Carolina
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Army
CitationsLegion of Merit
Place of birthWyncote, Pennsylvania
Office website
William Harner is a former acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Education. He was nominated by Governor Tom Corbett on May 22, 2013, and assumed the role on an acting basis June 1, 2013.[1]
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While awaiting Senate confirmation, Harner abruptly resigned on August 26, 2013 at the request of Gov. Corbett. A spokeswoman for the governor would not comment, saying only "it is entirely a personnel matter." Details soon emerged indicating it had to do with a complaint lodged against Harner when he was head of the Cumberland Valley School District. Sources speaking on condition of anonymity said the matter involved an email Harner sent to a male administrator earlier in 2013, asking how he looked in a Speedo bathing suit. The employee then filed a complaint.[2]

In a statement, Harner said he was disappointed he would be unable to continue in the role, saying of the complaint, "It remains my understanding and belief that any complaints made during my tenure as superintendent were fully investigated and no matter was ever determined to be of merit or legal consequence." He went on to accuse those who disagreed with his methods of being responsible for his removal, stating, "detractors to my approach have succeeded in undermining my confirmation with a campaign of distortions. I regret that they have put their interests ahead of their children’s education."[3]


Harner began his career with the United States Army, serving in command, teaching and staff positions at West Point and as Chief of Policy and Strategy for the U.S. Forces Korea in Seoul. Retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he entered the field of education, running the Greenville County, South Carolina school system from 2000 through 2004. From there he went to the Gainesville, Georgia school district and then to Philadelphia to serve as special assistant to former Philadelphia schools chief executive Paul Vallas and as a regional superintendent.[1]

In 2007, Harner was appointed to lead the Toledo, Ohio school district. He also worked as deputy superintendent for the Recovery School District of New Orleans before taking over the Cumberland Valley district in 2008. He remained in that position until being named as Pennsylvania Secretary of Education in May 2013.[4]


  • Cheltenham High School (1974)
  • Graduated, U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  • Master's degree, Education Supervision and Human Resources, University of South Carolina
  • Doctorate, Educational Leadership, University of South Carolina

Political career

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education (2013)

Harner served as acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Education from June 1, 2013 until August 26, 2013, when he resigned at the request of Gov. Corbett. He was appointed to fill the position after Ronald Tomalis left it to become Special Advisor to the Governor on Higher Education.[5]



Harner was nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett to be the Secretary of Education on May 22, 2013.[6]

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Political offices
Preceded by
Ronald Tomalis
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education
June 2013-August 2013
Succeeded by
Carolyn Dumaresq