MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade School Board held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss what they’ll be looking for when they select a replacement for outgoing Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

“This is a very consequential decision and I want to make sure that, as many people in the audience have said today that it is an open and transparent process,” said board member Lucia Baez-Geller

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In December, Carvalho announced that he would be leaving South Florida to become the new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

With Carvalho in attendance, the board’s chair, Perla Tabares Hantman, announced his last day will be February 3. However, he has agreed to stay until February 14 if needed.

“The truth is that the person who comes in must know the district and must know the players. What a terrible loss this is for our district. Some say it is time to move on. I do not see the logic in that,” said board member Dr. Marta Perez.

School Board members approved of some minimum qualifications and approved a seven-day window for candidates to apply and submit their resumes and they will also be setting up a website as well.

School Board member Mari Tere Rojas said the new Superintendent must demonstrate experience in the classroom and as a principal and with the school district and have a master’s degree and preferably a doctoral degree and have an understanding of the community and students.

Carvalho told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that his successor must have strong leadership skills and must have preferably been a Principal in the past and have a “cultural understanding of the community and be data driven and understand the processes. That person must also have the fortitude to stand up against special interests. That person must be willing to fight for the best interests of the child.”

School Board member Steve Gallon said, “That person needs to be an educator and a teacher and have experience as a principal.”

Carvalho said he expects the School Board to convene at least one special meeting to discuss the candidates.

There were some verbal fireworks after the meeting when Marta Perez said that “the reason the Superintendent is leaving is because there is a toxic environment. The School Board wants to control the Superintendent.”

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While Gallon said that was not so, Carvalho said, “I am not going to comment on that but I will say that I am accepting the position of Superintendent in Los Angeles for professional reasons. I will say that there has been an external and internal shift in the past few years in this state.”

Carvalho has led Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth-largest K-12 public school system in the country, since 2008.  L.A. Unified is the second largest.

In 2018, Carvalho nearly left to become the school chancellor for New York City Public schools, the largest school system in the nation. However, he changed his mind at the last minute after emotional, heart-felt pleas from parents, students, and board members.

During Wednesday’s meeting, board members heard from members of the public who insisted that the hiring process should be transparent and inclusive. Many urged the board to allow input from students and parents in their final decision.

“The criteria by which you’re selecting your superintendent, I mean it’s been around since 1930 so I think this is maybe a perfect time to relook at that and to include community participation, in particular parents,” said Stephanie Vanbark.

But transparency went beyond the selection process.

“Our superintendent had been known for his transparency. The next one should have the same attributes,” said board member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall.

Some also suggested opening a nationwide job search for the position, which board Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III did not agree with citing the timeline the board has to fill the open position.

“We have the capacity within this district, throughout this state, with people who understand the nuances of Miami-Dade Public Schools to continue the great work and build upon the foundation that has been set. So, I don’t necessarily believe we have to go outside,” he said.

Carvalho leaves behind quite the legacy in Miami-Dade. He arrived in the United States at 17 as an undocumented immigrant from Portugal. He went from being a busboy to one of the nation’s leading educators with a track record of success.

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In 2014 Carvalho was selected as Florida’s Superintendent of the Year and National Superintendent of the Year.

Deborah Souverain