The finalists for the Chicago Public Schools CEO position include Pedro Martinez, the current superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, and another applicant from outside Chicago. That information comes from sources familiar with the search, and it was confirmed Monday by a school district administrator familiar with the process, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
After a national search that gathered 25 applicants, including eight district employees, a district search committee made up of staff and residents recommended these two frontrunners to Mayor Lori Lightfoot in late July. The district official could not explain why the process has taken so long, despite the fact that Chicago had set a deadline of the end of July to name a replacement for Janice Jackson, who stepped down in June after about three years at the helm.
In the first search update in nearly two months, the official said that “We have two promising leads, and we have our homework to do”.
The official, however, emphasized that a report published over the weekend by the Chicago Sun-Times, which initially mentioned Martinez as a finalist, was wrong in implying that José Torres, the district’s temporary CEO, is a top contender for the permanent role. When Lightfoot recruited Torres, the former Elgin superintendent, she made it clear that he would not be considered for the permanent position, and the city maintains that this is still the case. The city is close to naming a new CEO, though no announcement is planned this week.
Martinez served as a chief financial officer for Chicago Public Schools between 2003 and 2009, under then-CEO Arne Duncan, before taking on superintendent responsibilities in Texas and one of Nevada’s largest school systems. Martinez’s push to racially integrate San Antonio’s school district, which serves around 50,000 children, has garnered national attention throughout his stint as superintendent.