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Chicago Board of Education Unanimously Approves Pedro Martinez as the New Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools

22 September 2021

Martinez, 51, is first Latino to hold the position permanently 

CPS Office of Communications

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CHICAGO –The Chicago Board of Education today voted unanimously to approve Pedro Martinez as Chief Executive Officer at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), making him the first Latino to hold the position in the city's history outside of an interim capacity.  Martinez’s first day with CPS will be September 29. 

“The Board congratulates Pedro Martinez on his historic appointment and looks forward to working with our new CEO to continue to drive student achievement in partnership with principals, teachers, and parents,”  said Miguel del Valle, President of Chicago’s Board of Education. “The Board has every confidence that CEO Martinez’s focus on equity for all students and his belief in the importance of community engagement will help CPS rebuild trust with the community and continue to drive Chicago Public Schools positive results.”  

Most recently, Martinez served as superintendent of San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), overseeing the District’s 48,000 students. Throughout his tenure, he brought a laser focus to improving academic achievement so that many more students performed at higher levels and were well-prepared for college. He also increased the District grade from an “F” to a “B,” receiving statewide recognition from the governor and Commissioner of Education as the fastest improving large district and having the highest achievement gains of any district. Under his leadership, the SAISD improved graduation and college-going rates from 82% to 85%.

Before joining  SAISD, Martinez was Superintendent-in-Residence for the Nevada Department of Education and was responsible for advising the governor’s office and the State Superintendent of Instruction on education reforms. Prior to that, he served as superintendent for the 65,000-student Washoe County School District, covering the Reno, Nevada area. He raised graduation rates from 66% to 73%, reduced remediation rates by 33%, and increased student participation and performance in the advanced placement courses by 40% for Latino students and 20% for African American students. Martinez also previously served as Chief Financial Officer at CPS, managing an operating budget of $5 billion. Over six years, he helped create and streamline systems to help educators improve outcomes for the district’s students, raising the high school graduation rate by 20%.

A native of Aguascalientes, Mexico, his family moved to Chicago when he was five years old. The oldest of 12 children, Martinez graduated from Benito Juarez High School and grew up in the Pilsen neighborhood. He holds an M.B.A. from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy. 

The selection of Pedro Martinez was the result of the most inclusive CPS CEO search conducted in recent history. It included 30 focus groups that collected feedback from more than 300 stakeholders, including parents, teachers, staff, LSC members, students, and community partners; a district-wide survey to gather feedback from all stakeholders; and a dedicated webpage that provided community updates about the status of the CEO search. 

He replaces Interim CEO Dr. José M. Torres, who filled the role following the resignation of Dr. Janice K. Jackson in June of this year. 

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.