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The Black and White

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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April 8, 2024

What’s next for Interim Superintendent Monique Felder

Felder+began+her+education+career+as+a+classroom+teacher%2C+assistant+principal+and+principal+in+MCPS.+She+left+the+district+in+2014+to+serve+as+the+superintendent+of+Orange+County+Public+Schools+in+North+Carolina.
Griffin Haber
Felder began her education career as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal in MCPS. She left the district in 2014 to serve as the superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in North Carolina.

On Feb. 6, the Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously voted to elevate Dr. Monique Felder to MCPS interim Superintendent following Dr. Monifa McKnight’s resignation on February 2nd. On Jan. 22, McKnight released a statement explaining a request for her to step down. Shortly after McKnight’s original statement, she made another statement detailing her decision to leave the Superintendent position.

Felder began her education career as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal in MCPS. She left the district in 2014 to serve as the superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in North Carolina.

“After nearly a decade away from MCPS, I am honored, humbled and thrilled to be back in the district that shaped me as an educator and leader,” Felder wrote in a Feb. 6 statement to the community. “My commitment to the students and families of this district is unwavering.” 

Public criticism of both the Board and McKnight had been mounting after the Washington Post published a series of articles, detailing alleged abuses by former Farquhar Middle School principal Joel Beidelman. The Post’s reports led to a subsequent investigation by the Montgomery County Office of the Inspector General, which faulted MCPS officials in its Jan. 24 report for disciplinary lapses.

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While Felder has been named Interim Superintendent, the Board separately announced plans to stage a national search for a permanent replacement. Under the terms of her current contract, Felder is scheduled to serve until June 30, the end of the 2023-24 academic school year. 

 On Feb. 8, the Montgomery County Council held hearings to interview members of the Board Education and discuss the findings of two reports on the Beidelman allegations: the Jackson-Lewis report — a third party review — and the Office of the Inspector General’s report. 

In its review, Jackson-Lewis found that five MCPS administrators had been aware of the allegations against Beidelman prior to his promotion as principal of Paint Branch High School, though the administrators didn’t take “any immediate action to remove [Beidleman] from [his] new position.”

County Council Vice President Kate Stewart was upset by the reports’ findings.

“As many of us have said, it is very troubling to us that the issues and deficiencies in the complaint process that pointed out have been pointed out before to the school system over the years and no actions have been taken,” Stewart said.  

The Board also discussed the report and reviewed the Inspector General’s recommendations during the meeting on Feb. 6. Board members interviewed MCPS Chief Human Resources Officer April Key and MCPS Department of Compliance and Investigations Director Stacey Ornsby about steps that their respective offices had taken to comply with the Inspector General’s proposals for reform. 

In her opening remarks, Board President Karla Silvestre said that the previous DCI reporting process caused “harm to this district.” 

“We understand that something has been broken in MCPS and the Board will work with MCPS leadership to ensure that what is broken will be fixed,” Silvestre said. “It is time to move toward correcting these actions so that we can move past them.”

This mistrust in leadership followed through to Felder’s appointment. ABC 7 reporter Kellye Lynn was concerned about Felder’s financial transparency. Specifically, Felder received payment from a consulting firm, but failed to report the additional income. These questions were brought up at the press conference following the Board’s vote to confirm her position.

However, the Board stands behind her as she moves forward. President Silvestre commented on Felder’s abilities in a community statement.

“We are confident that her background in district leadership, instruction and administration makes her the right person to carry us through this transition and begin the work to rebuild trust among staff and the community,” Silvestre said.

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About the Contributor
Griffin Haber, News Writer
Grade 11 Why did you join the Black and White? I joined the Black and White to give people the information they need to make their own opinions. What is your favorite board game? Risk

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