Mike Kent Credit: Mississippi Department of Education

The State Board of Education has named Mike Kent to serve as interim state superintendent for the next three months after the Legislature rejected Robert Taylor, whom the state board originally selected last November. 

Taylor, a Mississippi native, had worked in North Carolina public schools in various positions since 1992. He was on the job for just over two months before the Legislature rejected his nomination on Wednesday. 

The state superintendent oversees Mississippi’s 870 public schools and is appointed by the Board of Education. Kent will serve in the role through June 30 before a long-term interim superintendent will take over, according to a press release. The board will set a timeline for a search for a permanent superintendent at a later date, according to the release.

Kent has served as an interim deputy superintendent at the Mississippi Department of Education since 2012, working on leadership training for principals and superintendents, overseeing districts currently in state takeover, facilitating school district consolidations, and implementing changes to the accountability model. Prior to this role, he was the superintendent of the Madison County School District for over 10 years. 

“Mike Kent has deep roots and experience in Mississippi’s public school system at the state and district level and is respected throughout the state for his wisdom and effective leadership,” Rosemary Aultman, chair of the State Board of Education said in a statement. “The Board is confident he will provide continuity in leadership of the Mississippi Department of Education during this transition.”

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.