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Duval County Superintendent finalist for superintendent position in Detroit

Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Duval County Public Schools has been selected as a finalist for a superintendent position in Detroit. Vitti was vetted for the position by a national search firm.

Vitti has served as the superintendent in Duval for over four years. During his tenure, Duval County Public Schools has made incredible strides. Not only has the graduation rate for all students risen tremendously, Duval's graduation rate for African-American students is now highest of Florida's Big 7 urban school districts. Duval also has the narrowest achievement gap between white and African-American students in English Language Arts/Reading.

Vitti released a statement Saturday confirming his intent to pursue the position in his hometown, but making clear that this will not affect his responsibilities to the students in Duval:

"It has been an honor to work in a district and more importantly on a team that has been recognized nationally and statewide for our work with the shift in standards and curriculum selection, innovative school programming, leadership development, community engagement through a strong communication and marketing plan, expansion of the arts, narrowing the achievement gap, supporting overage students, and improving low performing schools.

Over the years, I have been asked and recruited to consider opportunities in other school districts, charter networks, and in the private sector. I have not considered those opportunities for over four years. Most recently, I was recruited by a search firm to consider returning home to serve the City of Detroit as its superintendent. Right now there are few, if any, challenges on a national level to traditional public education more than in Detroit. It was too difficult to walk away from this challenge and opportunity. Detroit is, and will always be in my DNA. I feel a sense of responsibility to explore the opportunity to determine if there is a match between the newly elected school board and me.

As those who know my work ethic and focus, my attention to my current responsibilities as superintendent will not be ignored as I explore this opportunity."

As an independent and local organization, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s collective commitment to the children of Duval County remains unwavering. No matter who sits in the DCPS superintendent seat, we will continue to work as hard as ever in the best interest of our city and its children.

Trey Csar, Jacksonville Public Education Fund released this statement to the local media on Saturday:

“I will never forget the first time I met Nikolai Vitti and learned first hand of his tremendous passion and motivation to make sure that every child, no matter who they are or where they live, has the opportunity to, as he likes to say, live up to their God-given potential. Under Dr. Vitti and the school board's leadership, our district graduation rate is at an all-time high and no longer the lowest of Florida's urban districts. On a personal level, I am happy for Dr. Vitti to potentially have the opportunity to bring that commitment and expertise to his hometown. On a professional level, I know that should he be offered and accept this position I would join city leaders, parents and public education advocates in being terribly sad to see him leave.