Guadalupe Guerrero held the job for 6 ½ years
By Beverly Corbell
After holding the position of Superintendent of Portland Public Schools for 6 ½ years, Guadalupe Guerrero has resigned, effective in February of 2024, giving the district two months to find his replacement.
Guerrero, the first Latino superintendent in PPS’s history, revealed in an interview with the Oregonian that he had fallen short of reading goals for BIPOC students, which testing of third graders showed that “low levels of success declined in spring of 2023 for Black, Indigenous, Pacific Islander and Asian students,” the report states. “Latino third graders showed only minimal growth.”
Raising graduations rates was another goal, and in that area, Guerrero succeeded, stating he was leaving the state’s largest school district in a “far more stable condition” than when he arrived in the fall semester of 2017.
He defended his efforts, even if in some areas his administration fell short.
“We did some really foundational work,” Guerrero told the paper. “Had we not been interrupted by Covid, I believe we’d be further along in demonstrating that our strategies and action are having a positive impact. Of course, I’d hoped for more growth (for students of color). Like the other 12,000 school districts in America, we haven’t closed the achievement gap.”
Guerrero said after Covid, when students returned to school campuses in the fall of 2021, because of months of isolation, the children’s “emotional and behavioral health needs were enormous,” and competed with the focus on academic areas.
Taking care of students’ needs was critical, and he defended not meeting all of the school board’s goals for him.
“I would argue that we have been attuned to our students’ needs and tried to address those as thoughtfully as we can,” he said.
Guerrero also noted other improvements that helped vulnerable students, such as establishing the Center for Black Students and the new Multiple Pathways to Graduation building, which will open next fall, “for high schoolers who’ve struggled to find a foothold in traditional neighborhood schools.”
In some ways, Guerrero said, maybe he stayed in the job a little longer than he should have,
“But I could see that there were these important remaining pieces that I don’t think would have been fair to saddle on a new superintendent,” he said.
For his next steps, Guerrero said he’ll take some time off before going onto another position, because he’s neglected his health and other personal areas.
“I have not been the best husband or father or uncle that I could have been these last few years,” he said. “I need time to detoxify, decompress and stare at the stars again,” he said.
His plan is to take his family on an extended road trip, particularly spending time in the deserts of the Southwest, and he’s waiting for the arrival of a vintage off-road 4x4 vehicle to use on the trip.
Guerrero said he is declaring his “free agency,” and that he’s not sure what he will do next.
“I’m sure that I will remain committed to serving inner city children, youth and families in some capacity,” he said. “I don’t know that it will be as a superintendent. Maybe, maybe not.”