Courtesy Center for Indian Education at ASU
Monty Roessel, Director, Bureau of Indian Education

Washburn Names Dr. Charles Roessel Director of the BIE


On December 11, Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel was named Director of the Bureau of Indian Education while touring a BIE tribally controlled grant school located on the Pueblo of Laguna in Laguna, New Mexico.

The announcement came from Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, who accompanied Roessel and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on the tour.

The Navajo Nation member had been serving as the acting director since February 2012.

The initial tour included a roundtable with principals from other local tribally controlled grant schools and BIE-operated schools and will be used by Interior for it’s “American Indian Education Study Group, a group that is working to improve educational outcomes for American Indian students attending BIE-funded schools,” according to a Department of the Interior release.

“The BIE plays a major role in the education of thousands of American Indian students across Indian country,” Washburn said. “As acting director, Dr. Charles M. Roessel has proven to be an effective steward of our Indian education programs, bringing to the Bureau extensive experience in school leadership and administration, and an understanding of what’s needed at the local school level. He is a strong and effective member of my senior management team.”

Roessel brings a background of educational wealth into the Washington, D.C. based position. In 2007 he started his service as superintendent of Rough Rock Community School, a BIE-funded, tribally operated K-12 boarding school near Chinle, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation reservation. He had been with the school since 1998 where he started as director of community services. In 2000 he became the schools executive director. In 2011 he was named the BIE’s Associate Deputy Director for Navajo Schools. In the position Roessel oversaw 66 BIE-funded schools throughout Arizona, New Mexico and Utah on the Navajo Nation reservation. From 2010 to 2011 he served as chair of the DOI’s No Child Left Behind Negotiated Rule Making Committee and on the Sovereignty in Navajo Education Reauthorization Task Force with the Navajo Education Department of Diné Education according to the release.

“I want to thank Assistant Secretary Washburn for his confidence in me for this important post,” Roessel said. “I am looking forward to working with Assistant Secretary Washburn and his team to ensure that the Bureau of Indian Education continues to fulfill its two-fold mission of providing our students with a quality education while respecting tribal cultures, languages and traditions.”

Roessel will now be reporting directly to Washburn and will head a staff that includes three associate deputy directors who are responsible for education line offices serving 183 BIE-funded elementary and secondary day and boarding schools, along with peripheral dormitories located on 64 reservations in 23 states. Throughout the BIE-funded schools more than 40,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students from federally recognized tribes receive their education.

In addition, the Bureau “serves post-secondary students through higher education scholarships and support funding to 26 tribal colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges.” The Bureau also runs Haskell Indian University in Lawrence, Kansas and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico – two post-secondary institutions.

While Roessel was at Rough Rock Community School, the first American Indian-operated, and the first Navajo-operated school when it opened in 1966, he oversaw a major school replacement and improvement project funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project was carried out by the Indian Affairs Office of Facilities, Environmental and Cultural Resources with the new facilities opening its doors on August 5, 2011.

Roessel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Photo-Communication/Industrial Arts from the University of Northern Colorado-Greeley (1984), a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Prescott (Arizona) College (1995) and a Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University in Tempe (2007).

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