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Published in Print: October 3, 2001, as Miami-Dade Board Fires Cuevas As Superintendent

Miami-Dade Board Fires Cuevas As Superintendent

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The Miami-Dade County school board last week fired Superintendent Roger C. Cuevas, who had led the nation's fourth-largest district for five years.

Dogged by mishandled land deals that cost the Florida district more than $2 million, a deteriorating relationship with some board members, and a difficult relationship with the local media, Mr. Cuevas was dismissed Sept. 26 by a 6-3 vote.

"The school board has spoken, and I accept their decision," Mr. Cuevas said in a statement. "When I step down, I will have only one regret ... that I will not be able to fully realize the academic improvements I have set in motion."

Board member Manty Sabatés Morse, who voted to keep Mr. Cuevas, criticized her colleagues for blaming the superintendent for the district's problems without owning up to their own responsibilities. She added that the board never established clear goals and expectations for Mr. Cuevas.

"We never told him what he did wrong," Ms. Morse said. "We never gave him an opportunity to fix it."

Perla Tabares Hantman, the board chairwoman, introduced the agenda item about Mr. Cuevas' future, asking the board either to terminate his contract or detail objectives for him to meet. The vote was to be held Sept. 12, but was delayed because of the terrorist attacks the day before.

National Search

Mr. Cuevas, who started his career with the 361,000-student district as an elementary teacher in 1969, was given two options. The board said he could accept a demotion and become a deputy superintendent, or accept a buyout of the remaining 2½ years of his contract, worth more than $500,000.

He will stay in his current post until the board selects an interim superintendent, probably at its Oct. 24 meeting. Board members are expected to conduct a national search for a new superintendent.

Mr. Cuevas' departure means that of the nation's 10 largest districts, Superintendent Frank Till is the longest-serving education chief. He has led the 250,000-student Broward County, Fla., district since 1999.

Vol. 21, Issue 5, Page 3

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