The Broward County School Board has settled on two candidates for its permanent superintendent job, one a familiar face and one an outsider, after the board publicly interviewed three finalists.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright is the known commodity, having served in that position since August.
“Not only are we continuing things, but we’re insuring that our parents and students are aware those resources are available to them,” Cartwright said during her interview to a question about mental health services being ramped up.
So the board will choose between her and Michael Gaal, a former Air Force flight instructor who has been an administrator in three urban school districts: Oakland, Detroit, and Washington, D.C.
“Just asking a child that is one year behind to try harder is not going to change outcomes for that child,” Gaal said in his interview to a question about raising academic performance.
Dr. Quintin Shepherd, who is currently the superintendent of a small school district in Texas, did not make the final cut.
The board members asked each of the candidates a variety of questions, ranging from accelerating learning after the pandemic to school safety to mental health supports and more.
“There’s a variety of things we need to look for, obviously for me, academics tops the list,” said board chair Laurie Rich-Levinson. “As well as we are a very diverse district and we want someone who understands the diversity and appreciates the diversity that we have in Broward County Public Schools.”
The Broward Teachers Union supports Cartwright, saying she has shown over the last six months that she can do the job.
“She stood in front of the MSD commission — tough group, you guys were there — you know, and they even said we like your answers, we expect you to keep going forward, the only way she can go forward is she has to be here to do it,” said BTU president Anna Fusco in a news conference, adding that Cartwright’s willingness to stand up to the state’s pressure on mask mandates also adds to her credibility.
Next week, Cartwright and Gaal will face the public in a town hall meeting. It will be held on Feb. 8 at Plantation High School at 7 p.m.
The next day, the board will make its decision, choosing either the person they know who has extensive experience as a teacher, principal and superintendent, or the one who has a military, business and education background but has never been a K-12 teacher. They each bring different skill sets to the table.