Three. That’s the number of spokespeople the Connecticut Department of Education has had in the last year following the death of the longtime spokesman Tom Murphy, who was well-respected for his exceptional knowledge about education policy in the state.

First came Mark Linabury, who was named the interim spokesman and now heads the Bureau of Choice Programs at the department. Then came Jim Polites, a former teacher and previous spokesman for Democratic legislators. On Friday, the education department announced Polites would be moving to Linabury’s department to “direct community affairs.”

The new spokeswoman, who started Friday, is Kelly Ann Donnelly, whose background is largely in communications for political campaigns in New York and New Jersey. Donnelly’s salary is $82,000 a year.

Donnelly will field questions from the media as the state education department works to implement Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education reforms.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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