Letter from the Superintendent

Detroit Public Schools Community District Families,

It is with great excitement, pride and humility that I begin our work to serve children and communities as your superintendent for the new Detroit Public Schools Community District.

I arrive at this opportunity with more than 15 years of experience as a teacher, principal, state and district administrator and superintendent. All of that work has been done in traditional, urban public schools and districts. I have had the privilege of serving communities that present the same challenges and opportunities as Detroit, including the Bronx, Miami, Jacksonville, and each of the large, urban communities within Florida.

There is no better time than now and no better place than here to demonstrate to the nation what we are capable of and why public education still matters.

As a product of a working class, immigrant, and single-parent home with a diverse immediate and extended family that reflects the diversity of Detroit, I know the importance of education. As a former student who struggled through school due to dyslexia and a lack of consistent parental involvement, I understand how delicate the balance between success and failure is for our children. I know that without the support of dedicated teachers, coaches, and mentors I would not be writing you this letter. Although there will always be life factors that separate us, I see myself in the 46,000 students who attend our schools and desire a future greater than they can see, obtain, or understand. We must, and will, ensure that we do everything within our span of opportunity to allow this to happen for them.

I start this work with a promise to always keep children first while recognizing that the most important employees in our school district are teachers and the principals who support them. Our organization will be child-centric while protecting and supporting the core of the organization—the classroom. I commit to an unprecedented work ethic, financial transparency, visibility and engagement in our schools and communities, an unapologetic passion and defense of public education. In addition, I commit to demonstrating the same persistence and resilience that you, parents and students demonstrate daily. I also commit to establishing and maintaining a positive, professional and supportive relationship with the School Board while advocating for what is best for children. Lastly, I commit to always listening to each of you—even when we disagree.

The ability and willingness to listen is reflected in my 100 Day Plan. All of the activities are founded on the opportunity to hear directly from you. These sessions will allow us to learn from one another and begin to develop the problem solving structures to improve the systems and processes that support our students.

These sessions will focus on a number of key areas that the School Board and I have already identified as priorities: improving student performance with a focus on literacy, increasing enrollment and enhancing the retention and recruitment of teachers. We will build off of the current Academic Plan that was reflective of stakeholder feedback and the 100 Day Plan to form the basis of our first Strategic Plan, which will guide our decision making process in the future.

I have the great honor and responsibility to lead this district to improve the lives of children and communities, but I cannot do that alone or in isolation. I need your commitment, trust and ownership, but I know I must earn that. This will take time, but my 100 Day Plan aggressively initiates that process.

I look forward to working and meeting with all of you soon.

If you can’t make it to one of our meetings, we still want to hear from you. Please take three minutes to complete this brief survey.

Nikolai P. Vitti, Ed.D.