The Detroit Public Schools Community District school board wants Duval County (Fla.) district Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to be its first permanent superintendent.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the board members, who took office in January as part of the newly constituted Detroit district, have voted to enter into contract negotiations with Vitti, 40. He is a native of Dearborn Heights, Mich.
The district's advertisement for the job set a salary of $250,000, but added that the final salary "for the successful candidate will be commensurate with experience, qualifications and meeting School Board criteria." Vitti receives $270,000 as a base salary in Duval County, a 128,000-student district based in Jacksonville.
Vitti has led Duval County schools, the nation's 20th-largest district, since 2012. Prior to that, he was the chief academic officer of Miami-Dade County Public Schools
After the board voted to choose Vitti, jeers along racial lines came from some in the audience. Vitti is the son of Italian immigrants. About 82 percent of the Detroit district's nearly 46,000 students are African American.
Many in the community, including some teachers and parents, have criticized the board for moving quickly in selecting a superintendent, and for not considering interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather as a finalist for the job.
The Detroit Federation of Teachers issued a statement following the vote:
"Last month, we respectfully requested that the board grant Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather a formal interview," the teachers union says. "That didn't happen, unfortunately. We believe that Meriweather, the first DPSCD superintendent with Detroit classroom experience since Dr. Eddie Green nearly 20 years ago, has provided much-needed stability after an often-volatile period in recent school district history. It is our hope that Meriweather remain an important member of the new superintendent’s executive team. Dr. Vitti should work side by side with Meriweather as assistant superintendent.
"With that said, we look forward to working with Dr. Vitti."
The new community district school board was created last year after the Michigan legislature approved a $617 million plan that separated the new school system from the existing Detroit Public Schools. The old district now exists only to collect taxes and pay off debt.