Orange school board picks three semifinalists for new superintendent

Orlando Sentinel | By Leslie Postal | May 25, 2022

In its search for Orange County’s next school superintendent, the Orange County School Board on Wednesday picked three semifinalists who will get further consideration as the possible next leader of one of Florida’s largest school districts.

The three are: Rafaela Espinal, an assistant superintendent for the New York City school system; Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for the Palm Beach County school district; and Maria Vazquez, the deputy superintendent for Orange County Public Schools.

The board was near unanimous in its selection of the three semifinalists, with seven of the eight board members picking all three to continue in the search process.

An administrator with the Washington, D.C., school system had the support of three board members, who thought his resume made him worthy of further consideration.

But others worried his professional experience did not include working in a system the size of OCPS, which enrolls more than 206,000 students, operates more than 200 schools and employs more than 25,000 people.

The three who made the semifinalist list were among the 15 people who applied to succeed Superintendent Barbara Jenkins, who is retiring later this year.

The school board hopes to pick a new superintendent by the end of June.

The three candidates will be asked to answer six questions— some in writing and some via video — by June 2. The questions will be based on the priorities the school board set for the next superintendent, taking into account input from the public provided in public forums and surveys.

On June 7, the board will meet again to discuss the search.

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