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Miami-Dade School Superintendent Jose Dotres addresses challenges as school gets underway

Miami-Dade School Superintendent Jose Dotres addresses challenges as school gets underway
Miami-Dade School Superintendent Jose Dotres addresses challenges as school gets underway 02:44

MIAMI - As Miami-Dade School Superintendent Jose Dotres prepares for the start of a new school year Wednesday, he worries about buses getting kids to school, having enough teachers in the classrooms and kids getting a good meal in the morning.

"My day will start with visiting a cafeteria kitchen where staff will be preparing breakfast for the children," said Dotres, who is preparing for his first opening day of school as superintendent of the fourth largest school district in the nation.

Dotres plans to visit six schools on the first day of classes, starting at Hialeah Gardens High School and ending his day at the school district transportation center.

"Transportation is what worries me the most, because of the unpredictability of traffic," he said.

The new school year will mark the first time thousands of students will be back in the classroom in two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The superintendent worries that many students are still getting back on track after disruptions to their education.

"Our school district has done a terrific job of improving the educational recovery trajectory of students," he said. "That does not mean there is not a lot of work to do as it relates to proficiency."

Dotres said safety will be top of mind as the new year gets underway, with protocols in place to deal with Covid-19 and Monkeypox. He added that school police conducted four active shooter drills over the summer and that every school in the district will have its own dedicated police officer.

Despite a nationwide teacher shortage, Dotres expects to have enough instructors in the classroom and is finding ways to keep teachers in the profession even though many feel they're more under the microscope than ever.

"We are doing everything we can to promote, recruit and amplify talent," he said. "The four most critical areas are math, science, special education and language arts in middle and high school."

Asked about the state's new Parental Rights in Education Law, known by critics as the "Don't Say Gay Law", Dotres said Miami-Dade "never has and never will teach sex education in grade k thru 3." He added that there will be no changes to curriculum to comply with the state's mandate not to teach critical race theory, since "We never taught critical race theory in our curriculum, it's not there so there is nothing for us to adjust or remove."

When Dotres was asked if lawmakers in Tallahassee could have spent their time more productively when it comes to education, he said, "Legislators look at things through multiple angles, so I can't speak for them, all I know is we are in line with the law and we have not had to make adjustments to it."  

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