The divorce between Alberto Carvalho and the Miami-Dade County School Board took another step forward Wednesday.
The board voted unanimously to allow the chair, Perla Tabares-Hantman, to begin negotiating a separation agreement with the outgoing superintendent. Carvalho’s contract calls for him to give 90 days' notice, but no one expects him to stay that long.
“I am extremely sad that he’s leaving but I wish him well and Godspeed and it’s his right,” Tabares-Hantman said in the board meeting.
This wasn’t the time for tributes, but board members spoke glowingly about Carvalho as they agreed to begin the separation negotiations. The teachers union let the board know it’s watching the process.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
“Because our public education system must continue to get it right,” said United Teachers of Dade president Karla Hernandez-Mats, speaking at the board meeting.
“This is our number one responsibility as board members,” board member Luisa Santos said.
Speaking in a news conference, Carvalho said his departure should be something like pulling off a Band-Aid.
“I think there’s gotta be a balance, right? I want to leave fairly quickly but not so quickly that I would in any way, shape or form undermine a smooth transition,” he said.
After 14 years leading Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Carvalho moves to Los Angeles, saying political pressure here had nothing to do with his move, but he acknowledged for the first time that the climate in California suits him.
“In terms of political alignment, in terms of respect for every person, respect for every tradition and culture, respect for immigrant communities, respect for science in terms of deciding what public health policies and entity will follow, certainly, there’s greater alignment and parallel between what I believe in and some of the standards and practices in California,” Carvalho said.
As if to make his point, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he wants to allow parents to sue school districts if they think their kids are being taught Critical Race Theory.
“I continue to be saddened by the fact that notwithstanding the fact that critical race theory is not taught across the state of Florida, is not part of the curriculum or instructional materials, that this continues to be brought up as a red herring as a political tool,” Carvalho said.
So what does Carvalho leave behind in Miami? Board member Dr. Steve Gallon says the district can withstand Carvalho’s departure.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools is in great shape, we have a solid foundation, we have a committed board, we have outstanding educational administrators at the district and at the school level and again, our district rests on the shoulders of our teachers and employees so we’re fine, I’m telling everyone, take a deep breath, take a step back and let the process unfold,” Gallon said.
The next step in the process will happen in January, when the board will hold a special meeting to discuss the separation terms, and then they will begin to talk about how to fill Carvalho’s shoes. He says his successor should have the courage to withstand political pressure, should be an educator, and should understand this community’s unique blend of cultures and ethnicities.