Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the new chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools Wednesday, naming who she says will be the district's first-ever Latinx leader.
Pedro Martinez, the superintendent for San Antonio schools, was selected to lead the nation's third-largest district following former CEO Dr. Janice Jackson's departure earlier this year.
"Throughout the entirety of our search for CPS's next CEO, we remained laser-focused on selecting a candidate that not only has expertise overseeing a public school system as large and diverse as Chicago's, but shares the lived experiences of our students and their families," Lightfoot said. "I am beyond pleased to share that Pedro exceeds these requirements and his historic appointment as CPS's first Latinx CEO is a true value add to our entire city. CPS and I want to formally congratulate Pedro on his new role and are confident that he will continue our school district's long, proud history of driving student excellence in an equitable and inclusive way."
The announcement was made at Benito Juarez High School in the city's Pilsen neighborhood, where Martinez, an immigrant from Mexico, graduated from. His sister and mother were also present at the announcement.
"We came to Chicago because Chicago embraced us as immigrants," he said, crediting teachers from his time in CPS who "saw something in me that I couldn't see myself."
Martinez served as superintendent for the San Antonio Independent School District since 2015. Before that, he was superintendent-in-residence for the Nevada Department of Education. Martinez also served as the chief financial officer at Chicago Public Schools under Arne Duncan, the former U.S. secretary of education.
In his first appearance Wednesday, he talked about the need to keep schools open, for vaccinations within the district and to come together against common enemies.
"We cannot be fighting within ourselves," Martinez said. "The enemy is COVID, the enemy is the systemic racism we've had in our country, the enemy is poverty - there are many enemies. We are on the same side."
Dr. José M. Torres has been serving as interim CEO since June, following Jackson's announcement earlier in the year that she would leave her position at the end of her contract to spend time with her family.