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Education

San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez Accepts Offer To Lead Chicago Public Schools

Pedro Martinez stands at a podium in the library at Lanier High School talking to students.
Camille Phillips
/
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez speaks to Lanier High School students at an event announcing a program that connected students with hot spots or devices to connect them to internet at home in December 2019.

Update:

After six years as the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, Pedro Martinez is headed home to Chicago.

Martinez has accepted an offer to become the next CEO of Chicago Public Schools, where he graduated from high school.

“No place other than where I first set roots could have pulled me away from San Antonio,” Martinez said in a letter to SAISD parents. “Although I’m leaving with a heavy heart, I know this district will not skip a beat in its pursuit of excellence on behalf of our children.”

During a press conference announcing his appointment Wednesday morning, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Martinez will be the first Latino to be the permanent CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Lightfoot called him a "national leader in education" and praised his leadership throughout the pandemic.

The CPS board chairperson said the interim CEO will work with Martinez to transition "within the next month or two."

Martinez said he plans to start at Chicago the last week of September, around Sept. 29.

“I'm very blessed that my district in San Antonio is in such a good position. I have a very strong team there, and I've already talked to my board and they know that this is my hometown,” Martinez said.

SAISD Board President Christina Martinez said trustees are sad to see him go, but they’re not surprised he’s been given the opportunity.

“We've been partners together; we have been a dynamic team of eight,” she said. “But the thing that sticks with me is that once you raise the bar, once you see what that looks like and feels like to work at that level, you can't go back.”

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

Christina Martinez said the SAISD board is committed to keeping the district stable and safe while they search for a new leader.

“You have a board in place that that knows what to do to get the work done. And we're all very laser focused on student outcomes,” she said, adding that trustees are also committed to keeping SAISD’s mask and staff vaccine mandates in place.

Candidates for interim superintendent will be interviewed during the closed session of Monday's board meeting. A search firm is expected to identify finalists for the permanent position in the spring.

During his tenure at SAISD, Pedro Martinez developed a reputation as a mover and a shaker who wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers in pursuit of getting things done. He is credited with setting the district on firmer academic footing and shrinking the number of schools on the state’s accountability watch list.

Previous reporting published on Aug. 23:

Pedro Martinez, the superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, is being considered for the top job at Chicago Public Schools.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Martinez is one of four finalists in the search for the school system’s next CEO, and the only one who’s been interviewed so far.

Chicago Public Schools interim CEO José Torres may be offered the job as well. The Sun-Times reports Torres is a top contender, but he had to be coaxed into accepting the temporary position.

In a statement released by SAISD, Martinez said he applied for the job because Chicago is his hometown.

“It is a compliment that Chicago Public Schools considers me a candidate for CEO, and it speaks well to the great work that is happening here in San Antonio,” Martinez said. “I am very happy in San Antonio ISD and proud of the transformation that is improving our children’s educational equity.”

Martinez said Chicago’s hiring process is “still ongoing.”

“I will wait to see how it plays out,” Martinez said. “My focus continues to be on San Antonio and making sure we are supporting our students and teachers, paving the way for a strong year ahead.”

SAISD hired Martinez in 2015. State officials and the district’s board credits him with improving both the district’s reputation and students’ academic outcomes.

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