Amid COVID pandemic, New Jersey names new state education commissioner

SOUTH ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday he was nominating Angelica Allen-McMillan to be the state's next education commissioner.

The appointment comes as the states' more than 600 school districts work through the COVID-19 outbreak, with many holding online-only or hybrid lessons.

"A product of New Jersey's public schools, Angelica has worked at all levels of education and knows exactly what our teachers and students need to succeed," Murphy said. "She is an exemplary educator, and I'm confident she is the leader we need to carry our school communities through the remainder of this pandemic and beyond."

Related: New Jersey's coronavirus cases on the rise, sparking concern and action

Allen-McMillan will succeed Lamont Repollet, who announced his plan to leave over the summer to take the top post at Kean University.

"I am a proud product of New Jersey's magnificent public education system, and I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the children of this state continue to get the type of education I received," Allen-McMillan said. "I am extremely proud the governor has put his faith in me to continue New Jersey's tradition of educational excellence."

Kevin Dehmer has been serving as interim commissioner since Repollet's departure.

"I'd also like to thank outgoing Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer for his tireless service during an unprecedented time for the Department and our state," Murphy said. "He'll continue to serve the DOE as CFO and Assistant Commissioner and will work alongside Angelica to advance an agenda that puts our students' health, achievement, and well-being first, and maintains our state's reputation as home to the nation's best public education system."

Allen-McMillan currently serves at the superintendent of Morris County schools.

The state's education commissioner must be confirmed by the state Senate. The commissioner oversees the state Education Department, conducts statewide tests and is in charge of doling out billions of dollars in state aid to school districts.

Related: Newark extends remote-only learning for students as coronavirus cases rise

For over 25 years, Allen-McMillan has worked as a teacher and administrator in various school communities throughout New Jersey. From 2017 to 2018, she served as Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education for the Newark Public Schools system. Prior to holding that position, she served as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instructions in the Irvington School District.

She also served as a middle school Life and Physical Science teacher in the East Orange School District, the Executive Director of the Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark, Assistant Principal of Clinton Elementary School in Maplewood, and Principal of the Marshall School in South Orange.

She is a graduate of Cornell University, where she received a baccalaureate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. In addition, she received a master's and a doctorate degree in Education, Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University.

She resides in Montclair with her husband, Randy, and their three children, Faizah, Jada, and Jason.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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