The Mississippi State Board of Education appointed Mike Kent as the interim state superintendent of education, just a day after the Republican-led Senate voted against confirming veteran educator Robert P. Taylor to the position. Taylor’s nomination was rejected, with Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis DeBar stating that he was looking for a superintendent “with a better resume on improving low-performing schools.” Black Democrats expressed outrage, alleging that the rejection was racially motivated, as Taylor had written about Mississippi’s racist past.
In response, the state Board of Education released a statement declaring that Kent, a white interim deputy superintendent with 40 years of experience in public education, was well-respected and capable of providing “continuity in the leadership of the Mississippi Department of Education” during a transition phase. State Board of Education Chair Rosemary Aultman praised Kent, saying that “Mike Kent has deep roots and experience in Mississippi’s public school system at the state and district level.”
For his part, Taylor expressed disappointment over the Senate’s decision but stated that he would respect the process. Kent will hold the position from April 3 until the end of June, at which point the Board of Education plans to appoint a long-term interim superintendent to take over on July 1.