Broward School Board picks new superintendent semifinalists and eliminates one

South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | February 1, 2022

One of three semifinalists for Broward schools superintendent changed during a do-over meeting Tuesday, with a Palm Beach County administrator out and a Texas superintendent in.

The School Board agreed Tuesday to select three semifinalists:

  • Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright, who got votes from all nine School Board members.
  • Michael Gaal, an Air Force veteran and former Washington, D.C., deputy chancellor, who got five votes (Ann Murray, Patti Good, Lori Alhadeff, Donna Korn and Debbi Hixon).
  • Quintin Shepherd, superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District in Texas, who got four votes (Good, Sarah Leonardi, Rosalind Osgood, Nora Rupert)

Eliminated from the list was Keith Oswald, chief of equity and wellness for Palm Beach County Schools.

Oswald got the second-highest number of votes last week behind Cartwright, but this week he only got three votes.

“While I’m disappointed, of course, I recognize that this is the Broward School Board’s decision to make and a Broward resident I wish them great success,” said Oswald, who lives in Oakland Park.

The School Board decided to hold last week’s meeting again after the South Florida Sun Sentinel questioned whether it violated the state Sunshine Law. Board members wrote their preferred candidates on ballots, but each member’s votes weren’t revealed during the meeting.

Interim General Counsel Marylin Batista instructed the board to redo the meeting, but several factors resulted in different results this week.

Last week, the School Board chose four finalists but one dropped out Thursday: Palm Beach County Regional Superintendent Peter Licata.

Media reports also raised scrutiny about Oswald’s role in a Palm Beach County school district decision to not initially discipline a Boca Raton principal who told a parent he couldn’t confirm the Holocaust actually happened.

Gaal, who placed fourth last week, also gained traction due to an email and social media campaign organized by critics of district leadership.

The finalists are expected to be interviewed Tuesday. Since Shepherd was just chosen Tuesday, the School Board will allow him to be interviewed virtually. Gaal and Cartwright will be interviewed in person.

Shepherd couldn’t be reached for comment, has been superintendent for 16 years. Before coming to Victoria, Texas, he led three school districts in Iowa and Illinois. He has also worked as a principal and music teacher.

In his application, he lists his successes as improving student outcomes, closing achievement gaps, improving his districts’ financial standing and generating community support.

“I believe the best predictor of future performance is past performance and I am proud that each of the Districts I have served as Superintendent have thrived under my leadership,” Shepherd said in his cover letter. “Put simply, I offer you my selfless service and a track record of success.”

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