Nikolai Vitti IMAGE: Jacksonville.com

On Tuesday evening the newly empowered Detroit Public School Board voted to appoint Nikolai Vitti to be the new DPSCD superintendent. That was their choice, and what’s done is done.

I have said before that I did not believe it was fair not to at least grant interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather an interview for the job that she has been doing for the past year, and doing it well. I also have some concerns – and I’m certainly jot the only one  who does – about the current board’s seeming tendency to conduct important business and discussions behind closed doors that should be conducted out in the open in front of the public. Granted, that might not always be the most comfortable or enjoyable option, especially when things get testy, but it was the public that fought hard and loudly for the return of Detroit’s elected school board, and therefore I would argue the board should probably bend over backwards to conduct as much business as possible in the public eye, not just the minimum amount required.

And finally, I happen to agree with those who think the selection process was rushed, and that’s putting it politely. There should have been much more time and many more candidates to choose from.

That said, I’m still rooting for the new board and have every hope that they will do what’s best for Detroit’s children. This is not an easy job by any stretch, because children’s lives are at stake, and at this point I choose to believe each of those elected officials understands that fact and understands the daunting task ahead. And unfortunately there isn’t much time for a learning curve, so it’s a given that mistakes will be made. Hopefully they will be few, and hopefully the board will pay attention when the voters attempt to grab their attention and point them out. The public isn’t always right by any means, and sometimes the loudest ones are the ones with the least amount of valuable information. But their voices do need to be heard, and the board needs to seek to work together with the community. Because after all these years of suffering under emergency management, you can best believe the community is sick and tired of being dictated to. They want a seat at the table.

This is something Mr. Vitti needs to understand as well. Not everyone will be welcoming him with open arms, and he needs to understand that some of their concerns and reservations are valid. He needs to deal with these issues up front, not hide in his new office. Because dealing openly with the community is the only way he will ever establish any level of trust. And trust is a hard, hard thing to come by in this town.

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