Board of Education Announces the Conditional Appointment of Dr. Monifa B. McKnight as Acting/Interim Superintendent

March 11, 2021

During its March 11, 2021, business meeting, the Montgomery County Board of Education approved the appointment of Deputy Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight as the acting/interim superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Effective June 1,  2021, Dr. McKnight will serve as acting superintendent and will fully assume the position of interim superintendent beginning July 1, 2021. The appointment is conditional upon approval by the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools and following contract negotiations with the Board of Education. The appointment will be confirmed at a future Board meeting. Superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith announced his retirement on January 14, 2021. 

The appointment of Dr. McKnight as acting/interim superintendent is through June 30, 2022, which will provide time for the Board to conduct a thorough national search for the next superintendent.  The Board expects to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) in the spring to identify an executive search firm by early summer 2021.  Once the firm is identified, it will work with the board to develop a timeline for the superintendent search process. 

Dr. McKnight will continue the work to ensure the implementation of systemwide strategies and to maintain the district’s focus on equity and excellence. She will also continue to work with Superintendent Smith on the district’s recovery efforts and phased return to school buildings. 

“Dr. McKnight possesses a deep knowledge of Montgomery County Public Schools that would serve to support the district during this period of transition,” said Brenda Wolff, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “The Board looks forward to working closely with Dr. McKnight to ensure MCPS meets the needs of all students.”

“I’m humbled and honored by this appointment and the Board’s confidence in me to lead at such a critical time for our school system. MCPS’ focus on providing an equitable, meaningful and quality education for all students is a point of pride for me and always has been. I look forward to leading the staff as we continue to build out and improve the educational experiences we provide for our students from all that has been learned over the past year,” said Dr. McKnight.  “We collectively have to find new and innovative ways to support students who have struggled during the pandemic and continue the success we’ve made in readying students for their future.”  

Dr. McKnight joined MCPS in 2019, coming from the Howard County Public School System where she served as the Chief School Management and Instructional Leadership Officer. Prior to her tenure with Howard County, Dr. McKnight served as director for Secondary Leadership Development Programs for MCPS. Previously, she also served as the principal of Ridgeview Middle School in MCPS. In this role, she received the Maryland Middle School Principal of the Year award, given by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

“Dr. McKnight has shown a high level of leadership and a focus on students and staff that will serve her well as interim superintendent. She is an excellent choice to lead MCPS in the coming months,” said Superintendent Jack Smith. “Dr. McKnight understands what is needed to guide MCPS during this transition period and ensure a quality education for all students.” 

In 2016, Dr. McKnight was selected as a Principal Ambassador Fellow by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to her experience and leadership in K-12 public education, she has served as an adjunct instructor at Hood College and McDaniel College, teaching graduate-level courses in diverse educational philosophy, human development, and race and equity in school leadership.


Read the full appointment resolution here.

Read Dr. Monifa B. McKnight’s full bio here.

Dr. Monifa B. McKnight Photo


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