Carey Wright will become Maryland’s interim superintendent of public schools after the state Board of Education’s unanimous vote during an online session Wednesday.
Wright is expected to start her new gig Oct. 23 to oversee a public school system with nearly 890,000 students and becoming the leading advocate for the 10-year Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan.
Wright stepped down last week as a four-year member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which helps set policies for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.
While serving on the governing board, she worked as state superintendent of education in Mississippi from 2013 until she retired last year.
Wright served the longest tenure at that position since the state board was created in 1982.
Maryland school board President Clarence Crawford said in a brief interview that one of Wright’s strengths is her work in literacy reform in Mississippi. During her tenure in the state, she’s credited with increasing the state’s graduation rate from 75.5% to 88.4%.
“She’s also known as a consensus builder. She went to Mississippi not knowing anyone going down there, but somehow was able to develop relationships with a largely Republican legislature and governor,” Crawford said. “We’re very fortunate to have her.”
Before Wright takes over, Sylvia Lawson, deputy state superintendent for organizational services, will serve as acting superintendent beginning this upcoming weekend.
That’s because Mohammed Choudhury will resign Friday as the state’s current public schools leader and the next day become senior adviser for the state school board.
Choudhury will provide education guidance, advice and strategies on state priorities such as the education reform plan.
As part of an agreement between Choudhury and the school board, he will continue to receive his base salary of $310,000 on a current contract that expires June 30. He will also have the option to work remotely or at the department’s office in Baltimore.
Wright’s term as interim superintendent will also end in June.
After the board’s vote, Wright joined the Zoom session and gave brief remarks such as working with the board, department staff, state and local leaders, teachers, students and families.
“We’ve got a grand opportunity here to ensure strong equitable outcomes for all of our students. I just want you to know I intend to take advantage of that opportunity to make sure that this actually comes to happen,” Wright said. “Thank you, again, for your support. It is very much appreciated. I am looking forward to getting to know all of you much better.”
Crawford said a national search for a permanent leader will continue. He will lead a transition joint committee comprised of some board members and department leadership.
Board Vice President Joshua Michael will lead a search committee with other board members. That group will work to search for a firm to help recruit a permanent leader to begin a new four-year term starting July 1.
Meanwhile, Wright has roots in Maryland, obtaining her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Maryland in College Park. She started her teaching career in the 1970s at Prince George’s County Public Schools.
According to Wright’s LinkedIn profile, she spent more than 26 years in Howard County public schools as a teacher, principal and director of special education and student services.
In May 2003, when she left Howard County, she headed south to Montgomery County for about six years to work as an associate superintendent at the school system’s Office of Special Education and Student Services.
Between August 2009 to May 2013, she worked as a chief academic officer and then a deputy chief for D.C. public schools.
She then worked in Mississippi from November 2013 until she retired in June 2022.
Wright also manages her own company called The Wright Approach Consulting. Her LinkedIn page describes her work as including leadership development and training, special education compliance and professional development for administrators and teachers.
Cheryl Bost, president of the state’s Education Association, released a statement on Wright’s selection.
“We look forward to meeting with and learning more about Dr. Wright and her plans as interim superintendent,” she said. “To be successful in Maryland, Dr. Wright will need to have an open door for educators, support the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future with a focus on equity, and ensure that schools are welcoming and safe places for all of our students, no matter who they are or where they’re from.”
This breaking news story was updated with additional comments at 9:30 p.m.