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Race ‘played a role’ in decision to reject Black superintendent of education: senator

The Mississippi Senate voted Wednesday to reject Dr. Robert Taylor as state superintendent of education, sparking accusations that race played a role in the decision.

During a Thursday interview on The Gallo Show, Senator John Horhn, D-Jackson, explained his displeasure with the decision to not confirm Taylor, who would have been the second Black superintendent in state history.

“There were all kinds of reasons thrown out there, but none that were really substantial enough, in my opinion, to reject this guy,” Horhn said. “I think race played a role in it. I don’t think it was the entirety of the reasoning though.”

Among the arguments against Taylor, some senators contended that the Laurel native has not spent enough time in Mississippi. Taylor was unanimously approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) back in November after 30 years working in North Carolina.

Horhn found that reasoning to be invalid, highlighting Taylor’s Mississippi upbringing as well as his resumé.

“The guy was born and raised here. He went to Southern Miss,” Horhn continued. “We had stellar recommendations from the state superintendent in North Carolina and other superintendents in North Carolina.”

Taylor, who most recently served as deputy superintendent in North Carolina, would have joined Henry Johnson as the only Black superintendents of education in Mississippi history. Coincidentally enough, Johnson served as the associate state superintendent in North Carolina before coming to Mississippi in 2002.

The SBE has selected Mike Kent to serve as temporary interim superintendent and will name a long-term interim on July 1. The SBE will also set a timeline for its search for a permanent state superintendent of education at a later date.

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