SOUTH ORANGE — 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.

Allen-McMillan will succeed Lamont Repollet, who announced his plan to leave over the summer to take the top post at Kean University. Kevin Dehmer has been serving as interim commissioner since Repollet's departure.

Allen-McMillan currently serves at the county superintendent in Morris County.

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.

A parent of three, Allen-McMillan started off in the private sector before pursuing education. She started as a substitute teacher before becoming a middle school science teacher in East Orange. She then served as a principal for 12 years in the South Orange-Maplewood school district.

Murphy said his nominee has experience in both urban and suburban districts and "she has seen what works and what does not work."

The announcement on Tuesday did not provide much insight into how the state's education system will continue to deal with the pandemic, which has left many districts juggling remote and in-person instruction.

"We have been knocked down and will continue to stumble on occasion as we work to stand tall in our fight against COVID-19," Allen-McMillan said.

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