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Duval School Board Discusses Possible Superintendent Vacancy

Lindsey Kilbride

The Duval County School Board met Wednesday to talk about the likely departure of school Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

The Detroit school board voted Tuesday to enter into contract negotiations with Vitti for the district's superintendent position. Duval School Board Chair Paula Wright said her main reason for calling the meeting was to talk about ensuring Vitti’s possible departure doesn’t cause disruption, especially as students are taking state tests this month.

“We want to make certain that all of our school environments are calm, focused, so our students can do the very best on the assessment,” she said.

Board member Scott Shine proposed trying to keep Vitti. He said Vitti’s been rated an effective leader in board evaluations and it’s worth a conversation with him about what that would take.

“To me it makes more sense to try to keep and effective superintendent that we have today as opposed to try to find one from the workplace in the national spectrum,” Shine said.

However, other board members didn’t agree. Lori Hershey and Becki Couch said they don’t think it’s likely Vitti would consider staying because he’s voiced wanting to go back to Detroit, close to where he grew up.  

“In his voice, today, he is thrilled to have this opportunity to go home,” Wright said.

Board member Cheryl Grymes said she’s hoping Vitti will at least stay through the end of the year.

“At this particular point nothing has changed in the sense that he’s still our superintendent, we’re still the board, we’re still working together” Grymes said.

In a statement sent Wednesday Vitti said of the newly formed Detroit Public Schools Community District, "When I learned of the board's decision last night it felt as if it were announced that I was drafted by my home team. ?It was a proud moment for my entire family and I. To be selected as the first superintendent by the newly elected board and new district is humbling and an honor.”

He said he looks forward to working through the contract phase of the process.

Wright said she’s meeting with him later Tuesday to discuss his timeline. She said she’ll relay that information to the board in a meeting scheduled Friday, when members will continue discussing next steps.

Vitti was one of two finalists for the job. If Vitti accepts the job, he’ll be the district's first permanent superintendent.

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Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride