Maryland School District ‘Enrages’ Taxpayers By Sending Thousands ‘Out Of State’

The largest school district in Maryland recently provided further evidence to taxpayers that it thinks very little of its duty to spend its money carefully and promote primary education. The district paid $52,500 to an out-of-state consulting firm to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent, only to hire the interim superintendent already in place.

Before hiring the interim superintendent, Monifa McKnight, the Montgomery County School Board entered into a contract with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, an Illinois consulting firm, last summer. The school board voted unanimously last week to hire McKnight permanently for an annual salary over $300,000.

The school board paid the same consulting firm $35,000 in 2015 to conduct a similar search. The board ended up hiring the interim superintendent already in place, Jack Smith. During his tenure, Smith personally selected McKnight to act as his deputy. Smith left the superintendent position suddenly last November to take a position with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. The board chose McKnight at that time to act as interim superintendent.

Dawn Iannaco-Hahn is a parent in the district who said little effort was put into the expensive search and that she believed McKnight would be selected all along. Another resident tweeted that the search was a charade and a waste of time and money that led other people into believing they had a chance.

Only weeks ago, an overwhelming 94 percent of the Montgomery County Education Association members said they had “no confidence in her ability” in the interim position. The 7,000 member association said in a statement that the board has “consistently shown a dereliction of duty and a lack of competence.” The group demanded immediate attention to their concerns.

McKnight’s leadership has seen harsh lockdowns and mask mandates as well as the district’s first-ever school shooting. Some critics of McKnight have said the shooting could have been avoided if the district had not removed police officers from school buildings.