Two high-ranking Palm Beach County public school administrators are among the four finalists vying for the top job in Broward County Public Schools.
The Broward school board whittled the candidate pool Tuesday, sending Keith Oswald, chief of equity and wellness, and Peter Licata, the south area superintendent, on to interviews Feb. 2, the candidates confirmed. The only candidate going in with more support from that board, according to local news accounts, is Broward's interim superintendent, Vicki Cartwright.
With more than 250,000 students and 241 schools, the Broward school district is the second largest in the state and sixth in the nation. Palm Beach County's public school system ranks fifth in the state and tenth in the nation, with more than 190,000 students .
Superintendent Robert Runcie exited the position in August after he was indicted on perjury charges.
Both Oswald and Licata have had lengthy careers in Palm Beach County and have been contenders for the superintendent's position both here and in openings across the state.
In 2018, Oswald, a former principal, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, was a finalist to replace outgoing Superintendent Robert Avossa, who left to work in the private sector. The job eventually went to Donald Fennoy.
Three years earlier, Licata was among the candidates passed over when the board chose Avossa. Licata has served as principal and director of the district's choice program before being named superintendent of the district's southernmost region.
At least three times in the years since, Licata has risen to become a finalist for superintendent of a Florida school district.
During Fennoy's tenure, Oswald rose to deputy superintendent but later saw a shift in duties, landing at the position chief of equity and wellness — a cabinet level position that reports directly to the superintendent.
When Fennoy announced he'd be stepping down, Oswald pre-emptively told the school board he didn't seek the interim job and threw his support behind Mike Burke, the district's chief financial officer. The move secured Burke's move to the interim job. The board was so pleased, they opted to forego a national search and keep Burke on as superintendent.
Under Burke's administration, Oswald has remained in his position as an advocate for equity while also now managing the district's COVID-19 response. Meanwhile, Licata has continued to manage the most densely packed region of the school district.
The nine-member Broward County School Board whittled its list from eight to four Tuesday. All nine favored Cartwright making the final cut, six also supported Oswald, while Licata earned five nods, the candidates confirmed.
Michael Gaal, former deputy chancellor for Washington, D.C., Public Schools, also made the cut with the support of four members, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The Broward board will interview the candidates Feb. 2 and narrow their options to two, who will return for a public interview Feb. 8. The board will make its decision the following day.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Keith Oswald, Peter Licata among finalists for Broward superintendent