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San Antonio schools superintendent, finalist for CPS CEO, says job ‘an opportunity that should be explored’

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that Pedro Martinez was emerging as a frontrunner to lead the nation’s third largest school system out of a group of 25 applicants.

Pedro Martinez
Pedro Martinez
Courtesy San Antonio Independent School District

San Antonio schools superintendent Pedro Martinez confirmed Monday that he’s in the running to be the next CEO of Chicago Public Schools, his hometown district.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported Sunday that Martinez was emerging as a frontrunner to lead the nation’s third largest school system out of a group of 25 applicants.

“It is a compliment that Chicago Public Schools considers me a candidate for CEO, and it speaks well to the great work that is happening here in San Antonio,” Martinez said in a statement.

“Because Chicago is my hometown — it’s where I went to school and it’s where I started my career in K-12 education — I felt it was an opportunity that should be explored. But it is still an ongoing process, and I will wait to see how it plays out. My focus continues to be on San Antonio and making sure we are supporting our students and teachers, paving the way for a strong year ahead.”

Martinez, 51, immigrated to the United States from Mexico and graduated from CPS’ Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s in business administration from DePaul University.

Martinez worked at CPS from 2003 to 2009 under former CEO Arne Duncan, including serving as the district’s chief financial officer. He moved on a deputy superintendent role in the Las Vegas district before taking the top job at another Nevada school system. Martinez has led the San Antonio district the past six years.

Interim CPS CEO José Torres, who Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly said publicly is not a candidate for the permanent job, is privately considered by some in City Hall and CPS to be a high-quality option. Officials may try to persuade Torres to stay, sources said, though that would come aside from the official search process conducted through a private search firm.

Asked about the CEO search at an unrelated news conference Monday, Lightfoot declined to comment citing the confidentiality promised to applicants.