Miami-Dade School Board votes to appoint Jose Dotres new superintendent

Dotres, 59, called it an honor to be selected by the school board, which interviewed three candidates in a special meeting Monday.

MIAMI – Jose L. Dotres, a product of Miami-Dade’s public schools, has been selected as the new superintendent of the nation’s fourth-largest school district.

The Miami-Dade School Board interviewed three candidates for the position over seven hours in a special meeting that went until about 10:30 p.m. Monday.

Board members voted 6-3 to appoint Dotres to replace Alberto Carvalho. Rafaela Espinal and Jacob Oliva were the other finalists the board had selected among 16 applicants last week.

“It truly is an honor. I get to come back to work with incredible professionals,” Dotres, 59, said after the vote. “My greatest desire is that we work closely together for the benefit of this entire school district.”

Dotres, who for the past nine months has served as deputy superintendent in Collier County, was first on the list to be interviewed Monday. He’s a Miami-Dade schools veteran who has spent decades here as a teacher, administrator and assistant superintendent.

The Miami-Dade School Board interviewed three candidates for the county’s schools superintendent position during a special meeting Monday.

By most accounts, he had been the favorite of the three and explained the reason he wants to come back.

“The primary why behind my decision is to continue serving the community that welcomed me when I was 5 years old, helped me to grow into being a successful student and taught me English as a second language,” Dotres told the board.

Dotres also spoke about the challenges the district is facing when it comes to COVID-19, the financial outlook and the challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers.

School board chair Perla Tabares Hantman will now negotiate a contract with Dotres, and his start date still needs to be determined.

Carvalho, who had held his position for 14 years, is set to leave for his new job in Los Angeles on Feb. 3. Despite objections, the school board decided to move quickly to replace him rather than hiring an interim superintendent to conduct a more extensive national search.

“Dr. Dotres already has the bond, the trust of many in our community and will be able to start on Day One hitting the ground running,” said board member Luisa Santos, one of the six who voted for him.

At last week’s meeting, board vice-chair Steve Gallon made a motion to name Dotres as the superintendent before later withdrawing the motion.

“Right now, I believe Dr. Jose Dotres checks each and every box,” Gallon said.

The school board was set to interview three finalists in a special public meeting Monday as they move quickly to replace the departing Alberto Carvalho.

In December, days after Carvalho announced his departure, Dotres was given a proclamation. Two of the nine school board members even hinted at Dotres possibly coming back.

Dotres started his educational career as a teacher and reading coach at Frederick Douglass and South Pointe elementary schools in 1988.

He also spent five years as the assistant principal at one of the district’s first K-8 Centers, M.A. Milam K-8 Center, and in 2000 became principal of Hialeah Gardens Elementary.

Dotres also spent a year as chief academic officer for Broward County Public Schools, and in 2014 he returned to Miami-Dade as the superintendent’s chief of staff before transitioning to chief human capital officer a year later.

Espinal was the only out-of-state finalist. She has been in K-12 education for 28 years, most recently as assistant superintendent in New York City.

Prior to that, she was superintendent in Community School District 12 in South Bronx, overseeing 36 schools and 24,000 students.

“I am passionate. I am hardworking,” Espinal told the school board. “I come with strong core values, having come to the United States at the age of 7 when my mom and dad came to America undocumented.”

Oliva grew up in South Florida and is a product of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system, a proud graduate of Killian Senior High School.

For more than two decades, he’s been in public education as a classroom teacher, administrator and superintendent of Flagler County Public Schools.

Oliva is now chancellor at the state’s department of education, overseeing all public K-12 schools.

“I think it’s important for people to know that I’m a husband and a father,” Oliva told Local 10 News in an interview last week. “I started in a classroom. I’ve gone into administration. I’ve been at the state level. I’ve garnered experiences that can benefit the students in a school district that nobody else has.”

For more information on the candidates, their letters of interest and résumés, click here.

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About the Authors:

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. 

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.