© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Meet Miami-Dade's three superintendent finalists

Headshot of each finalist: Dr. Jose L. Dotres, Dr. Rafaela Espinal and Jacob Oliva (left to right).
Headshot of each finalist: Dr. Jose Dotres, Dr. Rafaela Espinal and Jacob Oliva (left to right).

The Miami-Dade County School Board is meeting Monday to publicly interview the top three candidates in the running to become the next superintendent of the nation’s fourth largest school district.

In a process some community groups have labeled as rushed and mishandled, the board is racing ahead with the effort to replace outgoing superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who has led the district for 14 years. His last day is scheduled for Feb. 3.

You turn to WLRN for reporting you can trust and stories that move our South Florida community forward. Your support makes it possible. Please donate now. Thank you.

At a special meeting scheduled for 2 pm, each candidate will get the chance to make their case and field questions from board members, who have been soliciting questions from community stakeholders. The three finalists are:

  • Dr. Jose Dotres, deputy superintendent of Collier County Public Schools
  • Dr. Rafaela Espinal, assistant superintendent in the Office of Talent Management & Innovation in the New York City Department of Education
  • Jacob Oliva, a senior chancellor in the Florida Department of Education, overseeing the state’s Division of Public Schools

Tune into a livestream of the school board’s special meeting here.

During an at-times tense meeting last week, board members narrowed down the field of applicants from 14 to the three finalists.

According to the agenda, board members intend to appoint the district’s next superintendent during Monday’s meeting.

The next superintendent will oversee the district’s 334,000 students and 50,000 staff across nearly 400 schools, during a time of turbulence and crisis.

Meet The Candidates 

Jose Dotres

Dotres has spent more than three decades in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, beginning his tenure as an elementary school teacher and reading coach before working his way up as a principal, regional superintendent, and then administrator. He most recently worked as the district's chief human capital officer and chief of staff, before becoming deputy superintendent of Collier County Schools.

Rafaela Espinal

Espinal has made her career working in public schools in New York and New Jersey, beginning as a bilingual teacher. She climbed the ranks as a librarian and talent coach, then as a principal and superintendent, working in schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx and East Brunswick, NJ. Among the three finalists, Espinal is the only female candidate and the only one coming from outside of Florida. Espinal is also a finalist for superintendent of Broward County Schools.

Jacob Oliva

Oliva is a product of MDCPS, according to his resume, but has spent much of his career in North Florida. He started as a teacher before becoming a dean of students, a principal, and then superintendent of Flagler County Public Schools. Oliva is now a top deputy under Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Oliva was recently investigated as part of an inspector general’s probe into a state contract that prompted conflict of interest concerns. Two other DOE leaders resigned as a result of the investigation, which cleared Oliva. Last week, WLRN reported that a campaign-style ad for Oliva is injecting partisan “culture war” politics into the ostensibly nonpartisan process.

Kate Payne is WLRN's Education Reporter. Reach her at kpayne@wlrnnews.org
More On This Topic