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Superintendent Search Process & Finalists - FAQs

Members of the Portland Community,

While we continue to be very excited about our two superintendent finalists, we know folks in the community have questions about them and the process.  This is a hugely important decision, so we want to address these questions head-on and help everyone have access to as much information as possible.

Why are both of the finalists men? And why are there only two?

One of the reasons we chose to work with Alma Advisory Group is because they are committed to finding a diverse candidate pool and were up front that they would provide disaggregated data at every phase. Below, you can see the data at each phase in terms of overall numbers and self-identified gender and race.  At every point in this process, our main focus was looking for evidence of all the skills in the job description that was informed and developed by our community. This search is taking place while superintendents all over the country are leaving their roles and the education sector. It is a remarkably hard job that demands juggling incredible responsibilities in addition to utilizing political savvy in a climate of intense scrutiny and relentless media that often only captures part of the story. We are also up against districts that can offer higher salaries.

During our process, candidates are also making their own professional decisions and we’ve had several candidates withdraw to pursue other opportunities. We are lucky that both Eric and Ryan were committed to seeing the process through to the end.  Hiring is always a dance and this is a normal part of the process. The Board felt like it was extremely important to bring forward only the best candidates, not meet an expectation of numbers or identities. Our two finalists are both dedicated, talented leaders who bring a number of strengths and incredible experience with them, and their selection as finalists does not in any way indicate that the Search Committee or Board devalues the leadership abilities of other genders.

Why would you bring forward a finalist candidate that has had negative media in the past?

Both of our finalists offer decades of experience making schools better and a longtime commitment to equity and achievement. It is not uncommon for people in leadership roles to receive negative feedback when they make decisions that portions of the community disagree with. The Board also recognizes that when Black leaders redistribute resources away from historically favored communities, they are often faced with unfair, unwarranted attacks on their character. The Board will not select a superintendent unless we are confident that the person can and will be the leader our district needs for the future.  Our search firm, Alma Advisory Group, is helping us with the due diligence needed so we can be confident in our selection. For both candidates, we are getting as much information as possible and thoroughly investigating information, concerns, and accolades we receive about candidates. This includes many reference checks, internet screens, and follow-up conversations with individuals in the candidates’ home districts.  

If you have direct and specific information about either finalist candidate that you think is relevant, please reach out to sylvia@almaadvisorygroup.com so you can discuss it with them.  


Who will ultimately decide who should be our next superintendent?

The Board of Education decides who our superintendent will be, but they will do so with the suggested recommendations from the Search Committee and by reading through every panelist and community feedback form.  The Board is incredibly thankful for all the time and energy that members of the Search Committee have put into this process, and for the countless community members who have shared their thoughts as well. This additional context is invaluable to us on the Board of Education as we prepare to vote to appoint our next superintendent.


When will the decision be made?

The Search Committee will be meeting with the Board to share their recommendations on May 23rd, and the Board will be making their final decision shortly after. We hope to be able to make an announcement as soon as possible.