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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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February 26, 2024

MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight resigns following controversy over Beidleman promotion

Following controversy surrounding the promotion of former Paint Branch High School Principal Joel Beidleman, the MCPS Board of Education (BOE) suggested that McKnight resign on Jan. 22.
Following controversy surrounding the promotion of former Paint Branch High School Principal Joel Beidleman, the MCPS Board of Education (BOE) suggested that McKnight resign on Jan. 22.

On Feb. 2, MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight announced that she was stepping down from her position, effective immediately. 

McKnight sent the email statement around 5:00 p.m., officially disclosing her departure. Following controversy surrounding the promotion of former Paint Branch High School Principal Joel Beidleman, the MCPS Board of Education (BOE) suggested that McKnight resign on Jan. 22. Initially, McKnight contended that the school board failed to justify her removal. 

“The Board has never written, documented, or communicated any concern about my performance, and through the evaluation process has consistently affirmed that I have met expectations,” she wrote in a statement on Jan. 22. 

In the past seven years, Beidleman’s co-workers have filed 18 accusations against him, reporting verbal harassment, allegations of discrimination, sexual violence and sexual harassment. According to a report by the Jackson Lewis law firm, once the investigation informed MCPS of the allegations in Sept. 2023, McKnight failed to act promptly. 

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In an interview with NBC Washington concerning employee misconduct, Karla Silvestre, president of the BOE, said that she believes that the BOE wasn’t made aware of the allegations at the time of the vote for Beidleman’s promotion.

“It’s very concerning,” Silvestre said. “We want our employees to feel that they can come forward and that their concerns are going to be taken seriously.”

Additionally, Montgomery County’s Office of the Inspector General identified shortcomings in how MCPS addresses complaints of employee misconduct. As of Jan. 24, the school district announced that Beidleman is no longer an employee.

In the statement, which was sent to the MCPS community, McKnight highlighted her achievements as superintendent over the past two years.

“I have felt over the past several months, there has been a distraction,” McKnight said. “When the focus is no longer on whom I have agreed to serve, I must control my own fate. I have also maintained that it is critical that my reputation remains grounded in facts and truth.”

The Board later announced that MCPS Chief Operating Officer Brian Hull will be temporarily replacing McKnight as acting superintendent. The press release states that MCPS will announce the appointment of a new interim superintendent on Feb. 6.  

Student Government Association member Lauren Kim, a senior, expressed how Dr. McKnight has inspired her throughout her term as superintendent. 

“No matter where she went, she encouraged all student questions and ideas of change in order to find the best way to serve the students of Montgomery County,” said Kim. “I know that even after her resignation, her legacy will forever be seen in MCPS.”  

The BOE is aiming to enhance and ensure adherence to internal policies, procedures and operations, according to a statement. Additionally, it will focus on refining both internal and external communications and outreach efforts.

“The Board is grateful to Dr. McKnight for her many years of service to MCPS and public education,” the BOE said. “We wish her well in her next chapter.”

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About the Contributor
Aya Chami, Opinion Writer
Grade 11 Why did you join the Black and White? To give myself a creative outlet and to inform my school community about current issues What is your favorite song of all time? Cameras / Good Ones Go - Drake

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    DuckerFeb 8, 2024 at 3:32 pm

    I had an out-of-body experience while reading this story. Maybe it was because I had a brownie right before reading, but to be honest, I don’t actually think there was any weed in the brownie. When I read this story I was floating above my physical body and looking down on what my corporeal manifestation looked like before I read this life-changing tale of adversity and triumph. We stand with you. Hail Zorp.

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