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Dr. Monifa McKnight officially appointed as MCPS superintendent

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Monifa McKnight Tuesday morning.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Monifa McKnight to serve as the superintendent of schools for the 2022-2023 school year.

Dr. McKnight will be the first female and the second person of color to be the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. She served as interim superintendent and has led the county since June 1, 2021, following the retirement of Dr. Jack R. Smith after serving as MCPS' deputy superintendent.

"This is an emotional moment for me...I care for the children in the school system as I do for my children who are sitting right here," said Dr. McKnight during a media briefing on Tuesday.

“I am honored by the trust the Board has placed in me to lead the district I’ve called home for 20 years,” said Dr. McKnight. “This is a moment that calls for leading with empathy while in pursuit of academic excellence. I plan to place my focus on understanding the educational needs and interests of students and teachers, while prioritizing the safety and well-being of everyone in our school community.”

Board members said the move to appoint Dr. McKnight was a symbol of diversity. They believe her experience as a leader in the school system will help move it forward.

"Dr. McKnight is always poised under pressure we had a lot of crisis within our school system...she has always comes prepared, thinking quickly and acting with her staff...she is very committed to equity, let's watch her work and she is going to do the work and the board is here to support her...," said a school board member.

Dr. McKnight will continue to serve as a leader on the heels of a pattern of school violence within the school system -- with the most recent school shooting incident at Magruder High School, staffing shortages and COVID-19 transparency.

RELATED: MCPS virtual conversation addresses testing, staffing shortages, masks and learning gap

MCPS leadership promised that in the months ahead they plan to collaborate with county officials, community partners, and school-based staff to conduct a review of all school safety and security practices, address ongoing concerns regarding police presence on school campuses, and review the staffing of school-based security personnel and emergency response procedures.

Concerns over county COVID-19 protocol have also been an issue for some members of the school community. Community members have criticized MCPS leaders for confusing guidance. Just recently, students at 18 schools across the county walked out of class to bring attention to the school systems COVID-19 learning plan in the pandemic. 

RELATED: Montgomery County students walk out of class to demand virtual learning amid COVID

The move was a point of contention in Montgomery County as many parents asked for more transparency from the school system regarding how it is deciding which schools go virtual and which stay in person.

Leaders also continue to discuss staffing shortages within the school system. They said the problem is not exclusive to Montgomery County and are working to recruit bus drivers and teachers positions.

Dr. McKnight is expected to assume her permanent title effectively on July 1, 2022.

To learn more about her background, click here.

The appointment is contingent upon contract negotiations and approval by the state superintendent of schools, the Board said.

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