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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Superintendent Monifa McKnight resigns in “mutual separation” with Board

McKnight resigned Friday following allegations of knowingly promoting a principal accused of sexual harassment, bullying
The+seat+for+Dr.+Monifa+McKnight%2C+Superintendent+of+MCPS%2C+sits+empty+at+the+Board+of+Educations+table+at+MCPS+central+offices.+McKnight+resigned+Friday+in+the+wake+of+numerous+controversies+and+allegations+of+misconduct.
Seyun Park
The seat for Dr. Monifa McKnight, Superintendent of MCPS, sits empty at the Board of Education’s table at MCPS central offices. McKnight resigned Friday in the wake of numerous controversies and allegations of misconduct.

MCPS Superintendent of Schools Dr. Monifa McKnight announced her immediate resignation on Friday, Feb. 2, following a long string of controversies and an alleged request by the Board of Education for her to resign. 

The Board met in closed session from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, its second such closed meeting this week. At 5:06 p.m., McKnight released a statement announcing her intention to resign. McKnight touted her accomplishments in her statement, including progress with literacy and math results and closing the achievement gap, but stated that she had become a “distraction” from MCPS’s mission to serve students.

“When the focus is no longer on whom I have agreed to serve, I must control my own fate … Effective today, after careful reflection, prayer, and willingness to demand fairness, I have reached a mutually agreed separation with the Board of Education,” McKnight said in her letter.

in life things change, and I have lived long enough to understand that … I have felt over the past several months, there has been a distraction. When the focus is no longer on whom I have agreed to serve, I must control my own fate

— MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight

The Board released a similar statement, thanking McKnight for her service but announcing a mutual separation.

In the interim, Chief Operating Officer Brian Hull will serve as acting superintendent. Hull temporarily assumed McKnight’s duties as Superintendent last fall when McKnight was hospitalized. The Board will announce an interim superintendent for the rest of the 2023-24 school on Feb. 6. A long-term, permanent replacement could take longer to select as the Board announced they would soon begin a “national search” for a new superintendent.

“The Board’s priorities moving forward include upgrading and ensuring compliance with internal policies, procedures, and operations; improving internal and external communications and outreach; and most importantly, supporting schools in providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive,” the Board said in its statement.

According to the news website Moderately Moco, McKnight is due to be paid around $800,000 in severance for her resignation, equivalent to two and a half years of her salary. This has not been confirmed by MCPS or McKnight.

The main reason behind McKnight’s resignation appears to be the mishandling of Farquhar Middle School Principal Joel Beidleman. Beidleman had a reputation for abusive and inappropriate behavior yet was promoted to be Paint Branch High School principal last summer. According to some reports, McKnight knew about these claims when promoting him.

The superintendent’s roles and powers as the leader of MCPS encompass many aspects of MCPS’s operation. Among their responsibilities, the superintendent proposes the budget for MCPS each year, implements Board policies and otherwise manages day-to-day operations for MCPS under the guidance of the Board.

McKnight was appointed interim superintendent in 2021 and permanent superintendent in 2022. Since her permanent appointment, McKnight has received a yearly salary of $320,000. With her resignation, she will allegedly be paid a severance worth several years of her salary. (Courtesy MCPS)

McKnight has served as MCPS’s superintendent since June 2021, when she succeeded former superintendent Jack Smith. Since then, McKnight has faced an onslaught of challenges including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a rise in hate incidents across the county, a drug use epidemic, school security incidents including a shooting at Magruder High School in 2022 and the fallout from the Beidleman revelations.

The last time a superintendent resigned mid-term was in 2015, when then-superintendent Joshua Starr lost the confidence of the Board and could not garner the necessary five votes to renew his contract, causing him to resign early to give MCPS more time to find a new superintendent.

With her resignation, McKnight is now the shortest-tenured superintendent in MCPS history, excluding interim superintendents. McKnight was the permanent superintendent for one year and eight months starting in July 2022.

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Seyun Park, Print Editor-in-Chief
Junior Seyun Park is in his third year of the Pitch, happy to join this year as a Print Editor-in-Chief. Outside of Pitch, Seyun plays tennis and cello, and likes to follow hockey.
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