Earlean Smiley chosen as interim Broward schools superintendent, but Valerie Wanza fills in first
South Florida Sun-Sentinel | By Scott Travis | February 7, 2023
Retired administrator Earlean Smiley will become the interim superintendent for Broward Schools, but the district will first have another leader.
The School Board voted 7-2 to name Associate Superintendent Valerie Wanza as the “task-assigned superintendent.” She’ll stay in the job a week or so until Smiley takes over. Since Smiley is not a current employee, the school district has to go through a negotiation process. Board members hope Smiley will start around Feb. 15.
“We are so excited and know that Dr. Wanza will help us in this time periods, when we can negotiate Dr. Earlean Smiley’s contract and really just bring us together,” Board Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff said after the meeting.
Wanz said, “I never aspired to sit in this seat but I’m truly humbled. I respect the decision the board made today,” Wanza said.
Smiley was not in attendance at the meeting.
The School Board was considering several candidates for an interim leader, but Smiley rose to the top, attracting a broad coalition of supporters, including from the Broward Teachers Union, the Broward Principals and Assistants Association and the more conservative members on the School Board.
Smiley, 71, started with the district as a teacher in 1974, working her way up to principal and then deputy superintendent. She left in 2010 to become superintendent of a small school district in South Carolina for three years. She has spent the last decade as a consultant.
“I’ve heard only positive conversations about her past tenure with the district,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Obviously she has a lot of understanding of Broward because she worked her way up. She has the desire to help move the district forward and build a bridge for the permanent superintendent, whoever that may be.”
The School Board hopes to hire a permanent superintendent by July 1.
Wanza, who started with the district in the early 1990s, rose through the ranks to become chief of the Office of School Performance and Accountability. She supervised all principals and reported directly to the superintendent.
During a reorganization last year, Cartwright eliminated Wanza’s position and moved her to a position who many saw as a demotion, even though her salary remained the same. She became an associate superintendent overseeing alternative and special schools.