READING, Pa. — A former Reading School District superintendent is heading to Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania's incoming governor, Josh Shapiro, picked Khalid Mumin, the former leader of Reading schools, to join his cabinet as education secretary.
After some shorter stints by former superintendents, Khalid Mumin led the Reading School District for seven years, becoming the longest-tenured superintendent in more than 20 years.
When he left, board members tearfully thanked him for the stability he brought and the connections he built within the Red Knight community.
"Dr. Mumin came over here and turned the school district around," said Reading Mayor Eddie Morán.
When 69 News broke the news to Morán that Mumin had been tapped to fill the state's top education post, the mayor had nothing but positive words about the RSD's former superintendent.
"Wow. Oh my God," Morán said. "The state of Pennsylvania and the educational department of the state have just gained a huge individual that is going to be so integral in making our education move forward in this state."
In 2021, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators named Mumin the Pennsylvania superintendent of the year.
According to the association, when he came on board in 2014, Mumin inherited a slew of problems. They included 19 buildings of failing infrastructure, eight bargaining units that went five years without contracts, and little to no transparency among staff.
Mumin went on to implement consistent lesson plans. He created blending learning programs designed to reengage dropouts and get them to graduation and he hired more social workers and school counselors, among other efforts.
The award recognized Mumin for helping to improve students' attendance rates and test scores and closing the achievement gap.
"We are excited. Congratulations to Dr. Mumin, and I speak on behalf of the previous board of directors who hired him in 2014," said Noahleen Betts. "Governor-elect Shapiro picked a real superstar."
Betts, who is currently the president of the Reading School Board, says Mumin is a forward thinker who can tackle major issues; she says Mumin has proven that in the past.
"The Reading School District was on the verge of takeover by the state, and him and his administrative team worked tirelessly. They did a phenomenal job to make sure that didn't happen," added Betts. "He worked with bargaining units to make sure we settled those contracts, and he did a phenomenal job making sure he was focused on education."
"If there is something I learned from Mr. Mumin, it was that he made everybody important," Morán said. "He made everybody feel special. He made everybody's voice be heard. He would not leave the room without hearing your voice if he thought it was going be productive."
A Philadelphia native who said he grew up in poverty, Mumin has described himself as a "problem child' who had a change in heart halfway through high school. He credits good mentors for the shift in motivation.
A graduate of Shippensburg University, he went on to earn a master's degree from Penn State and eventually, a doctorate from University of Pennsylvania. He brings to the position more than 25 years of educational experience, which includes a stint as the head of the Lower Merion School District in Montgomery County.
"I know he's going to continue that legacy," Morán said. "He's going to continue to work with his leadership and cabinet. Congratulations to him. Shapiro definitely gained a star to his scene."
"It is an honor to serve Governor-Elect Shapiro and the people of Pennsylvania as Secretary of Education and help him carry out his vision so every child in Pennsylvania, regardless of race, class, or zip code, receives a quality education and the opportunity to shape their own future," Mumin said in a statement.