Portland Public Schools names Guadalupe Guerrero of San Francisco as next superintendent

Portland Public Schools' new superintendent, Guadalupe Guerrero, greets students Friday. He's not expected to start work until October. (KATU Photo)

The Portland Public School board voted unanimously Friday to hire Guadalupe Guerrero to be the district's next superintendent.

Guerrero, now a deputy superintendent in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), started his career as a bilingual elementary school teacher, working for seven years in both San Francisco and Boston Public Schools before earning his certification to become a school principal. In 2012 he became deputy superintendent for instruction, innovation and social justice at SFUSD.

“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.”

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.

At a press conference Friday, Guerrero said he accepted the position because he feels the district is at a 'critical juncture'. He said his focus will be on equity, preparing students for graduating and supporting struggling schools.

"I have learned that the most critical work is ensuring that every student has equitable access to high-quality, enriching programs," Guerrero said.

Guerrero is expected to start as superintendent over the coming weeks, as soon as his Oregon license is obtained. Brim-Edwards said that he likely won't start until October.

“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 new PPS board revived the superintendent search process in July after its original pick, Donyall Dickey, withdrew his appointment in May.

In July, Yousef Awwad was appointed to be the interim superintendent. At Friday's meeting, Awwad said he was happy the school district made a decision.

"He seems like a go-getter and a self-starter. I think he'll be great for the district. We're all here to just support him. We want him to succeed," Awwad said.

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.

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