New research paper looks at the vital role of the superintendency in today's context


Improving outcomes for Duval’s public school students means a brighter and more vibrant future for our city. And a strong leader for our public school system is a vital component of that. 

With the news that Dr. Vitti has been offered employment as superintendent in his hometown of Detroit, the Duval County School Board is faced with the need to find a successor. They will face several opportunities and challenges.

This Issue Review examines the last Duval superintendent search conducted in 2012 and also explores some best practices employed across the U.S. that could help the Duval County School Board as they work to appoint a successor. 

Download the full report here! 

Keep reading for an executive summary and preview of this Issue Review. 

Executive Summary

Duval County Public Schools finds itself at a crossroads with the impending departure of Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Following significant improvements to public education since 2012, where does Duval go from here? How will the Duval County School Board go about appointing a successor? What are some of the key factors that make for a successful superintendent search, and what are the lessons learned from previous searches? 

This report reviews the background of the previous search, considerations for today’s context and reviews research on what makes for a good match between school boards and superintendents. It concludes with recommendations to build on the progress Duval County has seen as a new leader is sought.

Today, Duval County finds itself at an important crossroads: Public schools have seen significant improvements, with progress seen especially among vulnerable populations of students. Duval needs a successor to Dr. Vitti that can build upon the foundation of progress that has been laid. Research indicates that identifying a successful match between school board and superintendent around the areas of shared understanding of district goals, working styles and roles. We urge the Duval County School Board to consider investing time in developing the profile of an ideal candidate, and to focus on a candidate who is committed to diverse communities and low-income schools. We also suggest prioritizing public input, continued collaboration with the community and transparency in the search process.



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of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.