Miami-Dade school board clashes over search for superintendent

The Miami-Dade County School Board's search for a replacement for Superintendent Alberto Carvalho continues.

MIAMI – The speedy search for a replacement for outgoing Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho continues with just about a dozen qualifying candidates and some vocal opposition to the process.

There were 16 candidates on Wednesday, the deadline to submit applications, records show. By Thursday, the list had decreased to 14. Two decided to drop out.

The school board chair, who rarely does interviews, opened Wednesday’s meeting with a charged message to those who are convinced the rush to replace Carvalho is part of a backroom deal that is favorable to the board and not to the community.

“I, Perla Tabares Hantman, do not partake in any shams,” she said.

The board is deeply divided.

Lubby Navarro, the District 7 member, accused opponents of spreading rumors about the hiring strategy, which doesn’t include an interim superintendent.

“Everyone has the right to free speech, but not everyone has the right to go on the radio and in media outlets and layout false information,” said Navarro, who didn’t mention names but was referring to School Board Member Marta Perez.

District 1 Board Member Steve Gallon III was among those opposed to a national search and has echoed Navarro’s sentiment.

Mari Tere Rojas, the District 6 member, agreed with Navarro.

“This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Rojas said of Pérez’s comments, without mentioning her name.

The fast Miami-Dade County School Board’s search for a replacement for Superintendent Alberto Carvalho continues with just about a dozen qualifying candidates and some opposition to the process.

Perez believes she has become a scapegoat for speaking up against the process.

Pérez, District 8 member, has been highly critical of the process and called it a sham based on the length of time applications were taken and the job requirements set forth.

The board’s majority decided the job description would require experience as a classroom teacher, principal, and administrator, and a master’s degree. A doctorate was preferred. The candidate has to demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of the community.

The next school board meeting is on Jan. 18. Carvalho’s last day before he departs to Los Angeles is Feb. 3.

Here are some of the candidates:

Dan Walke

The former speech pathologist and father of four attended public schools. He is the principal of a charter school in Homestead.

“I just love fighting for the forgotten,” Walke said, adding too many children keep falling through the cracks and he wants to change that.

Elton Aguilera

The veteran special needs teacher said his time in the trenches is what makes him most qualified.

“I feel a teacher should be running the school district to let the teachers do what they do best.”

Shawn Thorpe

Shawn Thorpe talked to Local 10 from Alexandria Virginia. He’s been a teacher, administrator and runs two private consulting firms.

“When I looked at Miami-Dade, it really gives me an opportunity to use all areas of my experience to really and try to help them to continue to move forward,” Thorpe said.

Oscar Rico

Like Thorpe, Oscar Rico has experience in the classroom as well as as an administrator.

“I came to this country illegally,” said Rico, who is based in El Paso and is Mexican-born.

Like many in South Florida, his family came to the U.S. looking for a better life.

As an educator, Rico says he’s always looking to impact kids like himself.

“Whoever is at those campuses needs to be carefully selected so that their life is impacted by an adult, who knows them personally, who knows their circumstances,” Rico told Local 10.

Nalisa Saati

Another candidate, Nalisa Saati told Local 10 she runs the Super Hero Leadership Academy, a non-profit in South Florida.

“It’s crucial that whoever takes this role understands the needs of the local community,” she said.

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.