JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti says he feels "a sense of responsibility" to consider the job of leading Detroit's Public Schools.
Dr. Vitti, who was born and raised in the Michigan area, said in a statement released Saturday that "Detroit is, and will always be in my DNA."
He was named late Thursday as one of three finalists in the superintendent search, according to the Detroit Free Press.
In a statement released Saturday, Dr. Vitti explained why he couldn't ignore the opportunity:
"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."
The Detroit Free Press says the other candidates are another Detroit native who now heads a district of 1,700 students and the regional superintendent for Milwaukee Public Schools.
The district is required to hire a superintendent by the end of March, according to the newspaper. However, board members reportedly said they might need additional time to negotiate with the person they select.
The President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, Trey Csar, released this statement after learning of Dr. Vitti's possible departure:
"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."
Dr. Vitti promised in his statement that his attention will remain focused on Jacksonville schools saying, "my current responsibilities as superintendent will not be ignored as I explore this opportunity."