The effort to find Miami-Dade’s next public school superintendent has been underway for about a week, but the process has already sparked rumors that the board has a top candidate in mind and has sparked off strong criticism of the district’s tight schedule.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami, for his part, raised an issue of lack of transparency and the board’s decision to forgo strong national research. (Vice President Steve Gallon III has spoken out against a national search because there is enough talent in the district, he said at a recent school board meeting.)
“Can’t we have a national search because it’s taking too long? Just asked. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho succeeded, in part thanks to his “top notch backup team”; someone in his cabinet should be qualified to take over for a few months, he argued.
The board plan is the “biggest accountability mistake I’ve seen in a long time,” Fair told the Herald.
The school board agreed on Wednesday that it will post and accept applications for the superintendent’s post for just seven days and aim to fill the post before Carvalho’s last day on February 3. The board can, however, extend or reopen the application window if they cannot agree on a candidate.
Applicants have until Wednesday 5:00 p.m. to apply.
School board searches usually take months
Two other Florida school districts – Lee and Broward Counties – are also looking for a new superintendent, according to the Florida School Boards Association, which represents school boards statewide.
In Lee County, an Acting Superintendent has been appointed in june after the former superintendent retired in May, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. In October, more than three months later, the board finalized the job description. Candidates had until mid-December to apply.
A similar scenario unfolded in the Broward County School District. The Broward School Board hired Vickie Cartwright as interim superintendent in July to replace Robert Runcie, who resigned last year after being indicted and charged with lying to a state grand jury (Runcie a pleaded not guilty.)
While the school board could have appointed her in October as its permanent chief, it declined to do so because the process seemed rushed. In addition, the members of the board of directors at the time said that they wanted to ensure the contribution of the community.
And in Los Angeles, where Carvalho is officially slated to take over in March, the school district began its research in June, approving a three part timeline which included a community engagement plan, multiple opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback and a recruiting period.
Carvalho, 57, announced in December that he was leaving Miami to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the country. Miami-Dade is the fourth largest district in the country and the largest in Florida. He is the second-longest-serving superintendent in the district, appointed to this post in 2008. He began his career as a science teacher at age 25 at Miami Jackson High in 1990.
When it comes to replacing the leader of an organization, be it education or a large corporation, it is common to appoint an interim leader, rather than rushing to hire a alternate, said Christopher Gentile, managing partner at Cognizeo, an education technology consultancy and e-learning pioneer. And that’s especially true for someone like Carvalho, who has been a constant guide in the neighborhood for over a decade.
“Any good leader will leave a void, but if (Carvalho) has done a good job, there is a group of individuals who can lead the ship, and those people should be put in place,” said Gentile, a former teacher. in Miami Jackson. Senior High. If the board rushes the process, it could make a mistake and end up like the other districts that run the rulers, he added.
“Such a short window sounds like a backstage chord,” he said. “It doesn’t look good.”
Community members are overwhelmed by the schedule, lack of commitment
Since Wednesday, voters across the district have voiced opposition to the quick schedule.
Russ Rywell, a district teacher and former District 3 School Board candidate, in an op-ed in the Herald Tuesday, called the process “madness.” He also highlighted the district’s continued struggle to fill the teaching posts.
“We’re still trying to find qualified teachers after five months of the school year,” he wrote, “but a seven-day search is enough to find the next superintendent for the country’s fourth largest school district? ”
Others, like Fair, of Urban League, said “the whole process is complicated” including the qualifications accepted by the board in the job description.
The next superintendent, the board determined, should have experience as a teacher, principal, and administrator, a master’s degree, although a doctorate is preferred, and an understanding of the diverse community in the district.
“They blocked the candidates who should be considered, ”said Fair. “There are issues that need to be addressed in the future (and) just because (you have been) a principal or teacher at a school does not qualify you to answer these questions unless we have a conversation at this subject. Carvalho himself would not have qualified for the role under the new parameters.
But that’s not how Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade sees it.
Requiring education training automatically eliminates many interested but unqualified candidates, especially politicians, she said. When Carvalho announced his departure, the union released a survey for its members and community stakeholders to gauge what they expected from a new leader, she said.
“WWe know they didn’t want a politician, they wanted an educator, ”she said. In this regard, ‘the listened and acted correctly. I’m comfortable with (the schedule) because I know it will be an educator and someone with experience in Miami-Dade schools.
Still, Fair said there’s a lot more than just education to the role.
“Obviously they already have someone,” Fair said.