Detroit negotiations with Vitti on hold pending legal challenge

School board member still wants Vitti to stay in Jacksonville

Dr. Nikolai Vitti
Dr. Nikolai Vitti

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the Duval County School Board prepares for the likely departure of Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti for Detroit, the Detroit Free Press reports that contract negotiations with Vitti are on hold until Tuesday while a legal challenge is resolved in Michigan.

Vitti was selected by Detroit to be its new superintendent, but according to the Free Press a community activist filed a temporary restraining order to keep the Detroit School Board from privately negotiating with Vitti. He wants the negotiations to be public.

The Free Press also reports that the board would like Vitti to start as soon as May 1, but that he's told them who would not be able to take over until late May or early June because of his current contract with Duval County.

Member Scott Shine held out hope Friday that the Duval County School Board would make an effort to keep Vitti in Jacksonville. He said at a special meeting Friday morning Vitti is leaving because he hasn't gotten enough support from the board.

Board Chair Paula Wright said at the meeting that everyone has their personal opinions but that she didn't know why they were still talking about the possibility of Vitti staying.

“Honestly, I believe that if things were different, he would prefer to stay here. These are not easy things to say, but we're in a situation where our children are going to lose if we have Dr. Vitti leave, so this is a last-ditch effort to at least say, 'Let's have a real dialogue,'” Shine said after the meeting.

Wright brought up her Wednesday meeting with the superintendent, saying that he told her that negotiating a contract with a second party can be a tricky situation but that he vowed to work with the Duval County board to ensure the smoothest transition possible.