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Emergency motion forces cancellation of Detroit superintendent meeting

Duval County's Nikolai Vitti among 2 finalists for Detroit job

Duval county Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti speaking with officials in Detroit in March as he interviewed to run schools in that city.
Duval county Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti speaking with officials in Detroit in March as he interviewed to run schools in that city.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A meeting of the Detroit Public Schools Community District to discuss whether to hire Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti or another man to be the first permanent superintendent was canceled Thursday after an activist filed a motion with the court saying the district didn't provide proper notice of the meeting.

The Detroit Free Press reported that a notice of the meeting was posted on the district's website April 6, but it wasn't posted on the page that normally lists board meetings. The district sent emails about the meeting to the media and advertised it on its Twitter account, but after activist Robert Davis claimed the meeting wasn't posted according to requirements, the district canceled the meeting.

The district has another meeting planned for Monday. 

The district's board is expected to discuss their selection Thursday, although there is another meeting set for Monday, so it is unclear when the decision will be announced.

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Vitti, who is one of two finalist for the job, visited Detroit in late March to make his case for why he deserves the job. Vitti, who is from Detroit and worked in Miami before taking over the Duval County district -- the 20th largest school district in the country -- told the board that he has experience in large, urban districts.

The Detroit Community District, which was created last year by the Michigan Legislature, includes all of the students, staff and buildings from the failed Detroit Public School District, which was in financial crisis in 2009 when it was taken over by the state. Since then, more than 100 schools have closed and five emergency managers have run the school district.

Vitti told the community that he knows he can help Detroit's struggling district.

The other finalist is Derrick Coleman, superintendent of River Rouge Public Schools, a neighboring district to Detroit. Members of the Detroit school board visited the school districts of both finalists.

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If Vitti is Detroit's choice, it could set off a domino effect for school districts in northeast Florida. One of the people Vitti mentioned as a possible replacement were he to leave Duval County was Clay County Superintendent Addison Davis, who was recently elected to the job by citizens hoping to heal divisions left by the previous superintendent.

Davis told News4Jax he was committed to Clay County, but didn't answer a direct question about whether he would take the job in Jacksonville, if it were offered. The Duval County job is higher profile and pays almost twice as much.