Detroit school superintendent finalist drops out

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — Orlando Ramos, regional superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, has dropped out of the race for superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

That leaves only two finalists.

When asked why, Ramos, 51, told The Detroit News he had another interview with another district at the same time as his March 29 interview here.

“This is correct,” he said. “Unfortunately, the interviews were scheduled for same day and time.”

He said he is interviewing for the superintendent position for St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota.

“Everyone was cooperative and professional,” said Ramos of the inability to interview in Detroit. “We just could not align everyone’s calendar.”

He has been regional superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools since July 2015. Prior to that, he was associate superintendent with the East Baton Rouge School System from 2012-15.

On Wednesday, when asked why he wanted to be superintendent, he told The Detroit News: “No city in America is more resilient than Detroit.”

“I believe with every fiber of my being that DPS will overcome the enormous obstacles that it currently faces,” he said. “I am not looking for a job, I am looking for an opportunity to contribute to this great American city.”

He said he has a history of advancing forward the organizations in which he serves, because he believes in the power of the people in the organization. While working in the East Baton Rouge district, he said they went from a state ranking of “D” to “C”, four points shy of a “B.”

“I find the best and expect them to lead and give them the freedom to do so,” he said.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District will continue the interviewing process with its two other finalists: Derrick R. Coleman, superintendent of River Rouge Public Schools, will be interviewed on April 3; Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, will be interviewed March 29.

Ramos, who was born in New York City, and is bilingual in English and Spanish, said he dropped out of high school and was a homeless teenager for a period of time.

“I understand the necessity of a quality education,” he said. “Lack of a quality education has life or death consequences for many in our communities.”

He was the recipient of the 2008 California Peace Prize for facilitating peace treaties with gang members and creating opportunities for at risk students.

He earned his master’s in education at Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his doctorate in educational leadership at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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