Ron Matus of redifinED recently interviewed new Duval school’s superintendent Nikolai Vitti. The former chief academic officer of Dade schools surprised Matus with his position on authorization of charter schools.
Vitti also offered a surprising take on who should authorize charter schools. In Florida, only school boards can do so – a situation that charter school opponents prefer, and one that may be tough to change because of restrictive language in the state constitution. But Vitti said unless changes are made to the charter application process – something that forces better dialogue between charters and districts – he’d rather have the state do the authorizing.
“I do believe there’s a way to create a balance between simply approving charter schools at the district level based on a boilerplate application process … and instead allow and require the charter school to be more strategic with the district,” he said. But “if we’re not going to create some kind of balance between that, then simply place the onus of the application process on the state. Because essentially that’s what’s happening already.”
Vitti must know that other Florida districts have battled with the state for overruling their boards when they reject a charter school. Why does he favor tying the hands of his own board in a similar fashion? Moreover, Vitti is acquiescing to the idea that control of schools should no longer be in the hands of local boards.
Vitti’s position is at odds with that of Florida’s association of school boards. Aside from having charter schools forced upon them when they don’t want them, school boards are having significant issues with oversight, ethical lapses and closures. Such realities make Vitti’s position all the more curious.