The Portland School Board on Friday unanimously voted to hire Guadalupe Guerrero to lead Portland Public Schools as its next superintendent.
Guerrero, now a deputy superintendent in San Francisco Unified School District, has dedicated himself to ensuring that all students – especially those traditionally underserved – have access to a well-rounded education that sparks learning and success in school.
“Guadalupe Guerrero is a proven educator who brings a deep understanding of classroom teaching connected to what it takes to help all children succeed,” said Julia Brim-Edwards, Chair of the Portland School Board. “Our goal was to hire an educational leader who is student focused and has experience building and sustaining systems to support every student leaving our schools ready for college, career and life. Guadalupe Guerrero is that leader.”
“I have learned that there are no short cuts in school district improvement. To improve student outcomes at scale, you have to define a set of aligned strategies to support learning and ensure that the supportive conditions are in place in every school, and all classrooms, for every student to thrive.” Guerrero said. “I am excited to work shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone in Portland on a student-centered and equity-focused effort to make Portland Public Schools the premier school system in the country. Our students and our community deserve nothing less.”
The Board’s hire is conditioned only upon completion, review and approval of the final background check by the State of Oregon that may only begin once an offer is made.
Guerrero is expected to start as superintendent over the coming weeks, as soon as his Oregon license is obtained.
Guerrero started his career as a bilingual elementary school teacher, working for seven years in San Francisco and Boston Public Schools, before earning his certification to be a school principal. He has always been drawn to schools, and students, who face the greatest challenges: from teaching in the Mission District of San Francisco, to taking on a struggling elementary school as his first principal post in Boston, to winning a federal grant and leading the school improvement effort for schools in the Mission District upon his return to San Francisco.
Guerrero has made his mark by working hard, listening to teachers, students and families, and supporting the classroom. In 2012, he became Deputy Superintendent for Instruction, Innovation and Social Justice at SFUSD, which has allowed him to take the strategies that worked in Boston and San Francisco to greater scale. While San Francisco – like most urban school districts– continues to strive to close persistent achievement gaps for students of color, the school district has a 86.5 % four-year cohort graduation rate, up 9.3 points in the last six years.
Guerrero earned his BA degree in History from UCLA in 1992, and two Master’s degrees from Harvard University, one in School Leadership and Principal Certification, and the second in Educational Policy and Management.
Guadalupe’s wife Carolyn, from Boston, has been an elementary school educator for more than 20 years and is now a second grade teacher in the San Francisco public schools. They have two children, a son now starting college, and a daughter, who will be starting her sophomore year in high school.
The new PPS School Board revived the superintendent search process officially in July and built on earlier community work done by the prior Board. Several hundred community members participated in the process, sharing their priorities for a new leader in a half-dozen public community meetings this spring, including targeted meetings with historically underserved populations in our community. Hundreds more offered their thoughts through an online survey.
The new board used the extensive community input to sharpen and refocus the position description, and then worked with the professional search and recruitment firm to actively reach out to prospective candidates. The Board and search consultants initially considered more than 40 prospects and candidates based on recommendations from the Board, community, and the search consultant. A team of Board members conducted lengthy screening or preliminary calls and meetings with many of those individuals. Twenty-five candidates applied for the position, and the board selected seven to interview.
The four semi-finalists who advanced in the process faced extensive interviews, including confidential interviews with community and PPS employee stakeholders, and an extensive vetting through reference and background checks.