Montgomery County schools chief Jack Smith announces retirement

MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith
FILE — Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith started on the job in 2016. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack R. Smith announced his retirement Thursday afternoon. He will retire from his position effective June 1.

In a video message posted to the school system’s YouTube channel, Smith shared how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected his family; his wife has had to move to New England to care for their 2-year-old grandson, and Smith said he will be joining her there.

His grandson has had open heart surgery and requires extensive long-term care.

“While I may be leaving Montgomery County Public Schools, I know it will go forward and do very well, and that there will be a part of my heart here as I go away this spring to a different obligation and a different adventure and doing different things than I have done before,” Smith said.

Smith came to Maryland’s largest school district in July 2016 after he was the interim state superintendent of schools.

In a letter to staff, Smith praised their work and added, “The work we have done together around the equity accountability framework, the allocation of resources, student well-being, upgrades to current technology, our expansion of pre-K and language programs are among a host of system improvements that I am so happy to have been involved with.”

Reacting to news of Smith’s retirement, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich commended the educator’s longtime experience.

“His experience as a classroom teacher, principal and curriculum director have enabled him to take on the challenges of leading Maryland’s largest, and very diverse, public school system,” Elrich said in a statement. “He has guided our school system during one of the most challenging periods in education history—helping our students continue their learning despite having the COVID-19 health crisis demand a virtual system over the past year.”

The Montgomery County school board said in a statement that Smith has provided “steadfast leadership and a laser-focused vision to provide every student with the access, opportunity and resources they need to succeed,” and that he has taken the school system’s goal to ensure educational equity to “the next level.”

“Although we are saddened by his departure, we understand his need to be with his family as they navigate a variety of challenging health circumstances,” the school board said.

An interim superintendent will be named soon, the school board added. Then, it will take the next steps for a nationwide search for a new schools superintendent.

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