Duval County School Board member Scott Shine said at a special board meeting Friday, he believes Superintendent Nikolai Vitti might stay with the district if board members tell him they want him to.
Shine said this as Vitti moves forward with negotiating a contract to become superintendent of the newly formed Detroit Public Schools Community District.
“I believe he feels at home in Jacksonville,” Shine said. “He’s from Detroit and I think he would be comfortable and happy to go back. Honestly, I believe that if things were different he would prefer to stay here and these are not easy things to say.”
Shine said he believes Vitti wants to leave because the board doesn’t support him.
However, Board Chair Paula Wright said that’s not what Vitti’s expressed to her.
“I do not agree with anybody’s personal opinion that Dr. Vitti is leaving because of board contentiousness,” Wright said.
Shine’s suggestion asking Vitti to stay was met with silence from other board members.
The friction has been well documented. Last year, Board Chair Ashley Smith said she had privately asked Vitti to step down from his position as superintendent. Before that, former Board member Connie Hall expressed she wasn’t happy with his communication style.
Shine said he believes moving forward without Vitti will be harmful for Duval education.
“We are going to be responsible for what happens if these numbers go south,” Shine said.
In an emailed statement this week, Vitti likened the Detroit offer to being drafted by his home team and said he wanted to negotiate his new contract as soon as possible.
Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride