Dr. José M. Torres has been selected to serve as interim Chief Executive Officer at Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Board of Education President Miguel del Valle announced Monday.
Lightfoot made the announcement alongside outgoing CEO Dr. Janice Jackson, as well as del Valle.
"From the East Coast to the West Coast, to right here in the Midwest, Dr. Torres has a proven track record of improving the lives of public school students and staff," said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. "His decades of experience, as well as his past leadership roles, make him a great candidate for the role of interim CPS CEO and I am confident that he will lead us well through this critically important transition."
“Serving the incredible students, staff, and families of Chicago Public Schools at this critical time is an immense privilege, and I am grateful to be returning to the CPS family,” said Dr. Torres. “I’m honored that Mayor Lightfoot and the Board of Education have put their faith in me, and I’m eager to begin helping our schools recover from this incredibly challenging year.”
Dr. Torres most recently served as president of Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Before then he was superintendent of schools at Elgin School District, U-46, regional superintendent (area instruction officer) at Chicago Public Schools and assistant superintendent for student services at Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
The announcement comes after Jackson revealed last month that she would be leaving her position at the end of her contract. Jackson announced the news in a letter to her "CPS family" posted on social media on May 3.
"It is with adoration that I have led this great school district as CEO for the past four years. While I feel there is still more work to be done in CPS, I also believe it is time to pass the torch to new leadership for the next chapter," Jackson's letter reads. "Therefore, after careful deliberation, I have made the tough decision not to renew my contract as CEO, which expires on June 30, 2021."
Jackson is a CPS graduate and a current CPS parent, both of which she referenced in her letter, writing that she's served in senior leadership roles with CPS for seven years. She highlighted the district's accomplishments in that time as "nationally recognized gains in student achievement, dramatic increases in graduation rates, college enrollment and completion rates, and the expansion of more academic programming across the city."
Jackson noted that her "tenure has not been without its adversity," highlighting a "disruptive year" due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"As I close out the next few months in CPS, our collective focus will be on ensuring a successful and safe reopening of schools full time in the fall," Jackson said.
"When I began this journey, I made a commitment to lead with integrity, courage, and excellence while bringing much needed stability to the district," she wrote. "I have delivered on that promise and will continue to advocate for the children of Chicago."
Jackson said she's not heading to another school district, but instead plans to spend time with her family.
Lightfoot said last month that she supported Jackson's decision, but did not give any indication as to potential candidates to fill the role.
"Look, there's no easy way to say this, but I'm, like many of you are, sad that Dr. Jackson has made this decision to step down as CEO of public schools, but I also know she always puts the most important things and values first - and that's her family," Lightfoot said. "And I understand this decision, and I support it."
The mayor noted there is "a lot of talent across the country," but Jackson's "high heeled shoes will not be easy to fill."