Portland Public Schools Lose Two Senior Officials to Districts in Texas, Calif.

Portland Public Schools have lost two senior administrators to other districts in recent weeks, both of whom have told Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero that they want to be closer to their families.

Former Assistant Superintendent of Education Kregg Cuellar will play a similar role in the Midland District of Texas, which has about half as many students as Portland. Luis Valentino, academic director of Portland Public Schools, was hired by the Coachella Valley Unified School District as principal.

Valentino oversaw the district’s program and instruction under Cuellar.

District spokesman David Roy told The Oregonian / OregonLive that Guerrero was already in talks with candidates both within Portland public schools and in other districts across the country to possibly fill the candidates. positions now vacant.

Guerrero was “not shocked or surprised” by the departures, Roy said. “He knew they were looking.”

Valentino was considering leaving in December 2019 when he applied to run schools in Hillsborough County in Florida, one of the largest districts in the country. He has withdrawn from the race for this post.

Valentino sought work in the Coachella Valley in part to reunite with his wife, who has lived there for three years, Roy said.

Cuellar has roots and a family in Texas.

Valentino was earning nearly $ 191,000 when he left Portland public schools. Cuellar’s salary was almost $ 207,000.

Valentino will earn $ 260,000 in his new job, reports The Palm Springs Desert Sun. Midland District officials were out of office this week, and an investigation into Cuellar’s salary met with an absence response.

The departures of two of Portland’s top public school decision makers came as Oregon’s largest district prepares to assess the fallout from a year dominated by virtual learning. Educators and families have made no secret of the format’s shortcomings compared to the traditional in-person experience.

By the end of the school year, more than a third of students in the district were learning exclusively by distance, according to state figures.

Portland Public Schools, like other districts in the state, are mounting a heavy summer offensive to tackle learning loss among its most affected students, backed by millions of state and federal funds.

Portland Public Schools’ Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Kregg Cuellar, has left the district for a similar role in Midland, Texas.Photo Courtesy of Portland Public Schools

Roy said that while Valentino and Cuellar oversaw the teams that developed the Portland public school curricula and teaching practices during the pandemic and Guerrero established his tenure as head of the district, their departures are not expected. derail those plans.

He highlighted the continued employment of Head of Schools Shawn Bird, Chief of Staff Jonathan Garcia and District Senior Advisor for Racial Equity and Social Justice Dani Ledezma.

“This is a difficult mission because (the district) is in a state of recovery,” Roy said. “There is some change with their departure, but a lot of the leaders who were involved in this phase will be there for the next phase. “

Guerrero hired Valentino in December 2017 and Cuellar arrived six months later.

Valentino worked alongside Guerrero in the Unified District of San Francisco. His hiring sparked controversy when Guerrero offered Valentino a contract despite his ousting as superintendent of Albuquerque public schools two months after taking office amid several scandals.

Valentino accelerated the hiring of one of his deputies who at the time was to be tried for four crimes, of which the future administrator was acquitted. Valentino has also been accused of plotting to bring down that district’s financial director, accidentally texting the official saying he “was going to sue them”.

The officer sent this text to the press and the school board voted to remove Valentino and pay him $ 100,000 to break his contract.

Guerrero initially hired Cuellar as head of schools, a role the then superintendent said “complements the educational wing” of his leadership team. Cuellar worked under Yvonne Curtis, who left in April 2019.

He previously worked in Baltimore where he oversaw central office administrators and 25 directors. Cuellar held a similar role in Portland Public Schools before being promoted to succeed Curtis.

Guerrero hired Bird to work under Cuellar in January 2020.

–Eder Campuzano | 503-221-4344 | @edercampuzano | Eder on Facebook

Eder is the education reporter for the Oregonian. Do you have a tip about Portland public schools? E-mail [email protected].

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