Two Former MoCo BOE Members Share Support for Interim MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight’s Hiring, Effective Immediately, As Superintendent For Next Four Years

by MCS Staff
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Former Montgomery County Board of Education members and MCPS principals Michael Durso and Jeanette Dixon wrote a letter in support of MCPS hiring current interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight as Superintendent for the next four years, effective immediately.

The full letter of support can be seen below.

“Dear Members of the Board of Education:

We write to you on this historic day as former
high school principals and members of the Board of
Education with 57 years of service in Montgomery
County, and while we are no longer employed by
MCPS, we both closely follow the work of the Board
of Education and MCPS.

Given the unprecedented challenges the school system has faced in the last two years of educating our students during a worldwide pandemic, we believe it is imperative that the Board of Education appoint Dr. Monifa McKnight as Superintendent of MCPS for the next four years effective immediately.

It has not been lost on us that both the Interim
Superintendent and the Board of Education have
come under excessive scrutiny and criticism recently
related to Covid-19 and protocols. Indeed, just within
the last few days, both the MCEA and MCAAP have posted strongly worded letters related to the handling of the virus and its impact on students, staff, and families. We understand the frustration all are facinG with these ongoing challenges.

Dr. McKnight knows and loves MCPS. Despite being buffeted by events beyond her control, she has worked tirelessly to ensure our students get the best education possible. We believe all education stakeholders should be grateful for her courage in taking on the position of Interim Superintendent. She has had a year to hone her skills as a superintendent and learned valuable leadership lessons. She has learned about the need for MCPS and the Board to improve communication, something that has been an ongoing issue in MCPS even before Dr. McKnight’s service as Interim Superintendent began. She is fully able to assess the inner workings of the school system and those who serve it.

We believe it would be unwise to appoint someone from outside of the system because it would take this person two years to learn all there is to know about MCPS. In Dr. McKnight we already have someone who is competent to provide both the continuity and change needed by MCPS. Based on her performance as Interim Superintendent, Dr. McKnight has earned the opportunity to continue to lead MCPS.

Naturally you are aware of what Dr. McKnight has done, but we wish to highlight why we believe she is the right choice for the next four years. As Deputy Superintendent she administered the school systemn from the time Dr. Smith announced he was retiring in February 2021, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that necessitated a paradigm shift in the way educators teach and students learn. During this time, she was able to get the 2021-2022 budget passed and ensure a smooth close of the school year, including celebrating and attending graduations for the Class of 2021.

In addition:

• Dr. McKnight implemented initiatives
focusing on an anti-racist audit, reorganization of the system for greater accountability, and professional development for all staff.
• Dr. McKnight has established excellent relations with elected officials at the county and state levels, state education officials and other Maryland school superintendents. She has completed the Leadership Montgomery program.
• Dr. McKnight is a good listener, presenter and public speaker with the ability to inspire others. She has demonstrated flexibility, and she has been responsive to the education stakeholders of Montgomery County.
• Dr. McKnight is professional, and she is respectful of the Board. She works well with the Board’s officers. She has gone out of her way to get to know the Board as a group and individually.
• Dr. McKnight is responsive, and she is not afraid to change her position or correct that which is not working. She is adept at analyzing data and using technology.
• Dr. McKnight has worked assiduously with all education stakeholders including those who have undermined her efforts and not given her the time and unquestioned support they gave to past male
Superintendents.

In conclusion, Dr. McKnight has earned the opportunity to continue to lead MCPS. She is a person of integrity who is an outstanding role model for all of our students. They can look at her and know that anything is possible when an African-American girl raised by a single parent in Orangeburg, South Carolina can rise to lead the fourteenth largest school system in the United States. She is the right person for this time. We urge you to make this historic appointment.

Sincerely,
MichaelA. Durso
Former MCPS Principal
1996 – 2009
Former Member of the Board of Education, District 5
2009 – 2018

Jeanette E. Dixon

Former MCPS Principal

1997-2013

Former Member of the Board of Education, At-Large

2016-2020”

Kate Ryan of WTOP first reported the two former BOE members support of Dr. Monifa McKnight in a tweet this morning.

 

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