The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is a constitutional agency approved by Nebraska voters. The Department operates under the authority of an elected board of education. NDE is organized into teams that interact to operate the agency and carry out the duties assigned by state and federal statutes and the policy directions of the State Board of Education. The teams are organized around distinct functions and responsibilities that encompass leadership and support for Nebraska’s system of early childhood, primary, secondary and postsecondary education; direct services to clients; and internal support to the agency.
The department carries out its duties on behalf of Nebraska students in public, private, and nonpublic school systems. The staff of the department interacts with schools and institutions of higher education to develop, coordinate and improve educational programs.
Dr. Brian Maher was selected as the Nebraska Commissioner of Education by the State Board of Education on March 31, 2023, and started in the position on July 1, 2023.
Dr. Maher is a long-time educator with strong Nebraska roots. He served as superintendent at Sioux Falls School District (South Dakota) from 2015 to 2020; a 25,000-student school system where he led during the beginning stages of a worldwide health pandemic. Maher also served as superintendent at both Kearney (2007-2015) and Centennial (1999-2007) Public Schools in Nebraska. In his tenure as a school superintendent, he successfully led four bond referendums in three different school districts. Dr. Maher was also an administrator at Waverly, Elkhorn, and Johnson-Brock Public Schools and a teacher at Elkhorn and Clarks Public Schools.
Maher most recently served as the CEO and Executive Director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, from 2020 to 2023. In that role he conducted a system-wide review of the Board of Regents, which includes six universities and two special schools. This was a statewide review that lasted more than a year and culminated with a report to the legislature and the governor. Dr. Maher also lobbied the two-house legislature for historic funding during the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions for the state’s public higher education system and led an effort which resulted in no increase in tuition for public higher education institutions in the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions.
Dr. Maher received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education at Midland Lutheran College before he went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration from the University of Nebraska.
As Nebraska Commissioner, Dr. Maher will serve on several boards and commissions in the state.
Deborah A. Frison, Deputy Commissioner
School Improvement and Support
Dr. Frison started with the Nebraska Department of Education in 2015 as Deputy Commissioner of Education for School Improvement and Support. She is a veteran Nebraska educator with 38 years of teaching and administrative experience within the Omaha Public Schools (OPS).
Dr. Frison formerly served seven years as Principal of Burke High School (OPS). Prior to Burke she served as Principal of King Science and Technology Magnet, a 5th through 8th grade magnet school, from 2000-2008, and Morton Middle School from 1997-2000. She received her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln/Omaha in 2000. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Brian Halstead, Deputy Commissioner
Brian has served as an Deputy Commissioner since June 2008, and has been employed by the Department since August 1990 handling numerous areas related to the development, implementation and application of the law, education policy, and legislative liaison activities at the federal , state, and local levels. Brian is a native Nebraskan having lived in York, Ogallala, Fremont, and Lincoln.
Brian received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1982, and a Doctorate of Law from the University of Nebraska Law School in 1985.
To lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.
Partnering for the best education for all . . . for life.
Equity of access and opportunity
Honesty, integrity, and trust
Quality programs and services
Visionary and participatory leadership
A positive, can-do attitude
Accountability for results
Respect for individuals and individual differences
Equity of opportunities and outcomes
Excellence through continuous improvement