Broward superintendent semifinalist drops out, 3 remain

One of the semifinalists picked by the school board this week has already dropped out of the running, declining to detail why.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools’ search for its next superintendent is down to three candidates after one semifinalist dropped out Thursday morning.

Peter Licata, a regional superintendent in neighboring Palm Beach County, told Local 10 News that he is withdrawing himself from the process.

“I want to thank the School Board of Broward County for their consideration of me for their next leader,” he said in a statement. “However, at this time I am stepping away from the process.”

The remaining candidates are:

  • Vickie Cartwright, Broward’s interim superintendent, who was previously superintendent in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She has also worked as an associate superintendent in the Orlando school district, was a principal in Texas, assistant principal in Mississippi and started as a music teacher.
  • Michael Gaal, president of Beable Education. He’s the former president of Cenergistic and was deputy chancellor at D.C. public schools and chief of staff at the Oakland Unified School Distirct.
  • Keith Oswald, Palm Beach County Public Schools’ chief of equity and wellness. He was also a local instructional superintendent in New York City and a Palm Beach schools principal.

Oswald is among Palm Beach school administrators who were named in a recent lawsuit that claims they didn’t report controversial comments made by Spanish River Community High School Principal William Latson. Latson was fired after he responded to a parent’s email in 2018 saying that he could not state that the Holocaust was a historical fact.

The Broward school board on Tuesday narrowed the field from 39 candidates to four but will have to re-do that meeting this coming Tuesday because of transparency concerns.

School board members used a tally sheet at their meeting Tuesday to select their favorite candidates, raising questions if that was legal because board members didn’t publicly say how they voted.

Cartwright had votes from all nine board members, most of any candidate, the tally sheet showed. Oswald had votes from six, Licata from five and Gaal from four.

“To ensure the integrity of the superintendent search process, the School Board will hold the meeting again on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, at 10 a.m., at the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center, 600 S.E. Third Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301,” the district announced late Wednesday. “The meeting will be live streamed at”

By Feb. 9, the board hopes to have selected the district’s next superintendent.

School board member Rosalind Osgood told Local 10 News on Wednesday that she believes Broward could have had more superintendent candidates if not for Florida’s toxic political climate.

Local 10 reached out to each of the semifinalists for an interview but was told by one that they were encouraged by the search committee not to speak to the media.

The school district has clarified that candidates will be allowed to speak to reporters if they wish.

“The District does not restrict job applicants from speaking with media and has clarified this with Ray and Associates [the search firm],” the district said in a statement. “The decision to speak with media is up to the candidates.”

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.