Ray Morgigno will serve as the next interim state superintendent of education in Mississippi. Credit: Mississippi Department of Education

The Mississippi State Board of Education named Ray Morgigno as interim state superintendent, to serve “tentatively” through June 2024 while the board conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.

The board met in executive session for four and a half hours Thursday before naming Morgigno to the role. 

Morgigno will replace Mike Kent, who served as a temporary interim for three months following the Senate rejection of Robert Taylor. Taylor was selected through a national search process last year to replace outgoing State Superintendent Carey Wright. 

READ MORE: Rejected State Supt. Robert Taylor says the situation ‘puts a stain on the state’

Morgigno is a 20-year veteran of Mississippi public education, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He served as the superintendent of the Pearl Public School District for 12 years. Morgigno also served as an officer in the Mississippi Army National Guard for over 20 years. 

Morgigno will earn a salary of $300,000 in this role, the same as permanent state superintendents. 

“Dr. Morgigno is a lifelong educator and public servant who brings a wealth of experience in public education in Mississippi,” said Glen East, board vice-chair, in a press release. “The Board is confident he will continue the great strides Mississippi has made in public education over the past decade as we conduct the search for a permanent state superintendent.”  

The board will continue to work with McPherson & Jacobson, the Omaha-based superintendent search firm that led the process last year to select Taylor. The search firm’s services will be covered under the original contract amount of $51,200. 

The firm will be accepting applications for state superintendent from Aug. 14 to Oct. 19. A press release from the Mississippi Department of Education said the board plans to solicit public input with a survey of educators, legislators, and business and community leaders regarding their ideal qualities and priorities for the next state superintendent. The press release added that the board anticipates selecting the next state superintendent by the end of 2023.  

Morgigno will also be eligible to apply for the state superintendent position under a recent education department rule change.

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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.