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Detroit and Buffalo Leaders Tenure Extended; Denver Superintendent Headed to Dallas

  • Nikolai Vitti has been superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District since  2017, and under his leadership the district improved its financial operations and was recently released from state financial oversight. The school system also funded art or music and physical education in every K-8 school, increased starting teacher salaries to be the highest in Michigan and partnered with a group of business and nonprofit organizations to launch the Connected Futures Project, which aims to provide all 51,000 students in Detroit schools with wireless tablets and internet access. Nikolai Vitti

    As a result, Vitti’s contract was recently renewed for another three years. The contract renewal will have him at the helm of the school system until 2025.

    Before coming to Detroit, Vitti, a native of Michigan, was superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Fla.

    Also receiving a contract extension was Kriner Cash, who took the reins of New York’s Buffalo Public Schools in 2015. He will remain at the helm of the 39,000-school system until 2023. Kriner Cash

    During his tenure, the district adopted a reform agenda called “The New Education Bargain with Students and Parents,” which resulted in reduced class sizes in the early grades, 22 new Community Schools and higher graduation rates. In addition, the district has experienced an increase in the number of schools in good standing by the state along with a decrease in the number of schools facing state intervention.

    “The district has made great progress during Cash’s tenure in Buffalo and needs an experienced leader to help schools get through the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Board President Sharon Belton-Cottman in a story in the Buffalo News.

    Denver Chief Headed to Dallas

    Susana Cordova, the superintendent of Denver Public Schools, has been named deputy superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, the second largest school system in Texas with approximately 154,000 students. 

    A graduate of the Denver school system, Cordova was named superintendent of the 92,331-student school district in 2019 after serving as the district’s deputy superintendent of leading and learning.  A first-generation college graduate, she served in several positions in the school system, including principal, chief academic officer and chief schools officer. Susana Cordova

    Under her leadership, the Denver school system experienced an increase in graduation rates, including a 10 percent improvement in Hispanic graduation rates and an increase in the number of students taking and passing rigorous courses. 

    Dwight Jones, the district’s senior deputy superintendent for equity, was recently named interim superintendent through the end of July 2021. Jones previously served as a superintendent of Nevada’s Clark County School District in Las Vegas. 

    El Paso Superintendent and Seattle Leaders Depart 

    Juan Cabrera, the superintendent of Texas’ El Paso Independent School District, recently left the district he has led since 2013.

    A former elementary-school teacher, he worked as a corporate attorney and software executive prior to arriving in El Paso. During his tenure, the 54,000-student school system transitioned from a state-appointed Board of Managers to the voter-elected Board of Trustees. Cabrera also led the district in the successful passage of two Tax Ratification Elections and the 2016 EPISD Bond – the largest in the history of El Paso County.

    Vince Sheffield, the district’s deputy superintendent of administration & academics, was named interim superintendent.

    Denise Juneau, the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, recently announced she is leaving the 53,627-student district when her contract ends in June 2021. Denise Juneau

    Juneau, the district's first Native American superintendent, has led the school system since 2018 and under her leadership, the district established the Office of African American Male Achievement, hired more classroom teachers and administrators who were people of color and approved a five-year strategic plan focused on ensuring racial equity and addressing the needs of students of color.

    “I came here with a dream to drive a powerful anti-racist agenda for Seattle’s school leaders, educators, parents, students, and broader community, and I worked aggressively with staff and the community to build a bold strategic plan focused on a better, fairer system for students of color furthest from educational justice,” wrote Juneau in a letter to families announcing her departure.