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Miami-Dade's superintendent heading to Los Angeles, and schools and parents cope with uptick in threats

Alberto Carvalho
C.M. Guerrero
/
Miami Herald File

Alberto Carvalho is negotiating a new contract to become the superintendent of schools in Los Angeles, ending a 13-year tenure heading up Miami-Dade schools. And school police have been busy this week, tracking down school violence threats on social media.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is negotiating a new contract to become the superintendent of schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District, ending a 13-year tenure heading up Miami-Dade schools.

Carvalho called his decision to leave a "bittersweet" one.

"After 14 years as superintendent, 30 years as an educator in Miami-Dade, you make a lot of friends, you make a lot of connections and many impressions. And I truly do have a love affair with this community. And I'm a bit surprised over the emotional impact of connecting with the community today and last night," he said. "It's hard on me, but this is the right decision at the right time, and that to [a] certain extent is a reflection of the work that we've done in Miami that other communities want to replicate and amplify."

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Carvalho said he did not yet know the exact timeline for his departure and it would be determined after discussions with the chair of the Miami-Dade School Board.

"I know this board is very deliberate and I'm sure that they will want a seamless transition, but one that's really not protracted. It doesn't necessarily help," he said. "My contract does provide for a 90-day notification, a timeline, but obviously based on some conversations that I've had, I believe there will be some flexibility regarding that timeline."

Carvalho said he thought it was "unlikely" he would stay in Miami-Dade through the end of the school year.

"I think there's an urgency right in Los Angeles. And now that an announcement has been made, I think that it benefits this community for this community to understand what the transition is, who the next leader of Miami will be. And for all kinds of practical reasons, you know, I'm not the kind of person that likes to be in a lame duck sort of situation," he said.

"I think from an effectiveness and practical perspective, it makes sense for for the transition to be respectful of what needs to be done as this transition happens, but to be swift enough to allow the new leadership to command after some degree of transition and take helm of the district while at the same time, now that the announcement has been made in Los Angeles, not allow too much time before I have boots on the ground and begin the work there."

Lots of threats against schools, none deemed credible so far

Parents and police have been busy this week, tracking down a number of threats of school violence across South Florida.

Social media posts led to some students staying home, parents crowding school driveways and police tracking down threats. It comes in the wake of another recent tragic school shooting — this one in Michigan, killing four students.

Miami-Dade Schools have had more than 20 threats over "the last few days," according to Edwin Lopez, chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.

"It's been a very unique week in terms of this new uprising in the number of cases. We had seen a lull over the past few months in these type of threats," he said. "But we are not unfamiliar with them at all. After the tragedy that occurred at Parkland, unfortunately, we saw a rise in these type of threats. And then during the pandemic they had subsided. And now in light of the recent events in Michigan, the school shooting where four students were killed, we're seeing an uptick and it's quite concerning."

Lopez said the threats come in different ways.

"Everything from handwritten notes on a bathroom wall in some schools, phone calls to the main office of some schools, posts on social media. So we receive them in a multitude of platforms, and they are obviously investigated very aggressively," he said. "They're tough to investigate many times because the culprits are very intelligent and know how to disguise their original source of it. But we have a team of amazing detectives that are equipped and trained to really combat these threats and identify these individuals."

None of the recent incidents have been deemed credible threats.

"However, it's very difficult to really label something with a definite certainty of credible or non credible, especially if you can't identify the culprit and interview the individual. At the end of the day, if you can't interview and identify an individual, then obviously you can't really dig down deep enough and know the original intent of the threats," he said.

"But yes, at this time, we deemed all the threats non credible or unfounded. We haven't been able to to identify any person that truly wanted to impose a type of threat that would impact our district."

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