San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez will leave to take job in Chicago

click to enlarge SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez speaks during a 2018 board meeting. - ALMA HERNANDEZ FOR FOLO MEDIA
Alma Hernandez for Folo Media
SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez speaks during a 2018 board meeting.
Pedro Martinez, who led a significant transformation of San Antonio ISD as its superintendent, has been hired as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, the Express-News reports

Martinez's pending departure was confirmed Wednesday by the mayor of Chicago, the daily reported, citing an SAISD statement. Reports swirled for weeks that Martinez, who grew up in Chicago and once served an executive role with that city's school system, was a finalist for the leadership post.

Martinez took over as SAISD superintendent in 2015 as the high-poverty district looked to turn around underperforming schools at risk of state takeover. Under his leadership, SAISD's state rating rose to a B from a C.

Martinez was lauded for introducing improvements such as STEM and dual-language programs that made its campuses more attractive to parents. However, he also drew the ire of the district's teacher's union by slashing more than 130 jobs during a 2018 budget crisis, the Express-News reports.

As school restarted this fall, Martinez defied Gov. Greg Abbott's order prohibiting districts from requiring masks on campus. He also became Texas' first school district to mandate vaccines for its employees, again flying in the face of orders by Abbott.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has twice sued the district over its vaccine rule, but Martinez defended the move in a statement to the Express-News, explaining that he was unconcerned about legal pushback.

“For us, it is about safety and stability in our classrooms,” Martinez told the daily. “We cannot afford to have threats to those two goals.”

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