By Steve Tawa

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pedro Ramos is resigning from the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.

The surprise announcement came today in a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The press release says Ramos, who has served two years as chairman of the SRC, resigned “to attend to recent, unexpected news within his family.”   There was no further immediate explanation.  Initial attempts to reach Ramos were unsucessful.

In the statement, Gov. Tom Corbett is quoted as saying, “I appreciate Pedro’s hard work and dedication to guide the Philadelphia School District during these difficult times.  Pedro’s well-deserved reputation and record in Philadelphia’s educational community gave him the credibility and insight to bring about change and positive reforms on behalf of the students of Philadelphia.”

Ramos, 48, is a former Philadelphia school board president, city solicitor, and managing director, and  a graduate of Central High School.  He has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Michigan law school.

Ramos was appointed to the SRC by Gov. Corbett.  The governor’s administration broke the news because the five-member SRC is made up up three gubernatorial nominees and two mayoral appointments.

There was no immediate announcement on who would replace Ramos, whose term expires in 2014.

Ramos joined the commission during a time of unprecedented financial and managerial turmoil in the Philadelphia school district, helping recruit William Hite after Arlene Ackerman left the superintendent’s post under a cloud (see related story) and helping the school district shore up its shaky funding streams (see related stories) even as the school district has cut positions at schools and has an unresolved contract with the teachers’ union.

Shortly after the Ramos announcement, schools superintendent William Hite issued a statement saying in part, “Pedro has been a stalwart supporter of the School District and our students, and he will be missed. He brought critical institutional knowledge as a former student, the parent of two public school graduates, the former president of the School Board of Philadelphia, a civic leader, and a business leader. This unique combination of experiences and perspectives will be difficult to replace.”

Hite added that “Pedro was one of the reasons I came to Philadelphia.”