Vitti now among 2 finalists for Detroit schools

Superintendent's letter to Duval County School Board suggests replacement

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Detroit Public Schools Community District is proceeding with scheduled interviews of Duval County school Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti and an another finalist for its superintendent job, despite the withdrawal of a third candidate for the job.

Vitti and Derrick Coleman, a Detroit schools graduate and superintendent of a suburban Detroit school district, are the only two left in consideration, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Vitti sent an email to Duval County School Board members on Monday saying he had spoken with each of the members separately about his interest the Detroit job, except for Vice Chairman Ashley Smith Juarez, noting he had played phone tag with her for several days.

In the email obtained by News4Jax, Vitti told the board that he would go to Detroit in the next two weeks for a final interview. 

"If I am offered the position and feel it is the right fit for my family and I, including the contract negotiation process, then my understanding is that the candidate would likely not start until May or June," Vitti wrote. "I state this only to provide you context and a possible timeline."

Board chairwoman Paula Wright said during a special meeting Wednesday that the interview in Detroit would be on April 3 and that a decision would be made April 5. Duval County's school board set its next meeting two days after the Detroit decision was to be announced.

"As you can imagine, this process can have many moving parts and change unexpectedly. I am making no assumptions and reiterate that there must be a strong match between the board and I if anything is to transpire into the future. I send you this email to only provide you context for the possible next steps so information is not assumed or misunderstood," Vitti wrote to the Duval County Board members.

Vitti said he he were to leave, he is was committed to working through the budget process and ensure a proper transition. He also suggested some people that could serve as interim superintendent if he were to leave. In addition to some internal candidates, his list included Addison Davis, Clay County's superintendent of schools.

Vitti suggested that choosing the next superintendent from those that he suggested "will inevitably force the district to go back two to three years in reform."