MCPS Names Deputy Superintendent to Focus on Equity Initiatives

MCPS Names Deputy Superintendent to Focus on Equity Initiatives

McKnight will work to ‘ensure all initiatives are focused on equity’

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Monifa McKnight will begin in August as the school system's newest deputy superintendent, focusing on equity initiatives.

Caitlynn Peetz

As Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) continues to implement initiatives focused on closing the achievement gap between high and low performing students, the school board on Thursday approved the hire of a deputy superintendent to lead those efforts.

Monifa McKnight will take the post in August. School system officials did not provide a salary estimate for McKnight.

“The (school) board believes the addition of Dr. McKnight to the leadership team will help our system continue to build on this foundation so that student success cannot be predicted by race or socio-economic status,” school board President Shebra Evans said.

Many of the school system’s newest initiatives – such as conducting a systemwide school boundaries analysis to ease crowding and break up concentrations of white and minority students – are focused on providing equitable access to services for its increasingly diverse student body. About 30% of MCPS students are Hispanic, 21% are black or African American and 28% are white, according to school system data.

Efforts to eliminate the achievement and opportunity gaps have guided the work of the school system for several years but the gaps persist, Superintendent Jack Smith said.

That work has been a key focus of Smith’s first three years at the helm of the state’s largest school system.

“The work collectively to reduce and eliminate the disparities that exist for students has been around for a long time, but the fact is it has not yet happened,” Smith said. “We can’t do or be all things for all students, but we can do more to bring about equity and excellence for all students.”

McKnight previously worked for the Montgomery school system as the director for secondary leadership development programs and as a middle school principal. Most recently, she was the chief school management and instructional leadership officer for the Howard County public school system.

“I am honored and humbled to return to MCPS to ensure all students, regardless of their background, have what they need to succeed,” McKnight said in a statement.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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