Reaction was mixed and muted on Key Biscayne to the news that Dr. Jose Dotres would succeed outgoing schools Superintendent Alberto Cavalho, who has served the last 14 years as the county’s top educator.
Key Biscayne’s representative on the school board cheered the appointment, which passed 6-3, but the rapid timeline set for picking a successor didn’t go over well with everyone.
A group of about 15 students organized a walkout to attend Monday afternoon’s school board meeting to protest the lack of student and community input in the selection process. The protest was organized using Instagram accounts miamistudentwalkout and poweru305, with around 4,000 followers combined. None of the students appeared to have been from MAST Academy.
Organizers declined to comment, but said in a statement that “The school board intentionally sets meetings during school hours to exclude students from attending. By being present here today, we are showing them that we are watching, and making clear the issues we want heard.”
Some board members complained that Dotres is a resident of Broward County. “I want someone to be a part of this community. I want someone who goes to churches on Sunday,” said Board Member Lubby Navarro, who voted against Dotres’ nomination. Others saw issues with his potential longevity in the position, often viewed as one of Carvalho’s greatest assets in his time as superintendent. Dotres is 59.
“I really don’t know why they bothered with the charade of a recruitment process. I’m going to wait and see how [Dotres] performs before a final judgement, though.” said Laura Rampey, who teaches statistics at MAST Academy.
Mari Tere Rojas, who represents Key Biscayne on the school board, supported the board’s decision and felt the pool of 16 applicants was sufficient.
“I was extremely pleased with the candidates who applied.” she said, noting there were applicants from New York City, Texas, and Ontario, Canada. “Dr. Dotres is one of the most qualified individuals for the position of superintendent.”
Carvalho announced last December that he would be leaving Miami to serve as the superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest.
Dotres himself was a product of Miami-Dade schools, learning English as a second language before returning as a teacher and reading coach in 1988. He served as an assistant principal for five years, and established an educational inclusion program for autistic students as the principal at Hialeah Gardens Elementary. For the next 20 years, Dotres served in a variety of administrative and directorial positions at Broward and Miami-Dade schools and districts. He most recently served as Collier county’s Deputy Superintendent for nine months.
Dotres’ contract is currently under negotiation with the district, and is expected to close in the coming days. Carvalho’s last day as Superintendent is February 3rd.