Washoe's new Superintendent is a Businessman not a Teacher

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 6/29/2012 5:47 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Washoe County schools have a new superintendent, pending contract negotiations. Pedro Martinez - who was once the deputy under Heath Morrison - accepted the offer today. But some are questioning if a businessman is fit to lead in the classroom.

Martinez has an impressive resume. He has an M.B.A., was the Chief Financial Officer for Chicago public schools under Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and has worked with Nevada schools since 2009.

But one credential is missing: teacher.

So News Four's Ashley Cullins talked to members of the school board to find out why Martinez is their top choice.


Ashley: The Nevada Administrative Code says that a superintendent needs three years of teaching experience, which Mr. Martinez doesn't have, so how is he eligible for endorsement?

Ken Grein, WCSD Board President: Well this question came up earlier in the process and referred it to our legal counsel and said tell us where we're at and he looked at all those codes and everything was right above board.

A memo from the district's legal counsel Randy Drake shows there's another statute allowing the board to hire someone who isn't licensed as an administrator - as long as there is someone licensed on staff to oversee academic programs.

Public Information Officer Vickie Campbell says there are three people who fit that need in the district: Scott Bailey, Chief Academic Officer; Jane Woodburn, Deputy Superintendent of Schools; and Kristen McNeill, the Interim Superintendent Chief Strategies Officer.

So it's legal...But how do the teachers feel?


Ashley: Has there been any concern from teachers about working with a superintendent who hasn't necessarily had that time in their shoes?
Grein: You know these things came up all along the way but it really wasn't an issue. It seemed to be a non-issue by the time we got through meeting all the candidates.


Board Trustee Estela Gutierrez agrees.

"This is a debate across the country whether you need to have education or being a teacher and you can go both ways, it really depends," Gutierrez said. "You have to have the talent, and I believe Pedro Martinez has all of those talents."

And his familiarity with the district's strategic plan doesn't hurt. 

"He basically doesn't need any training," Gutierrez said. "He'll understand the budget first hand. [He] was part of the strategic plan so we don't have to go over that. There's not going to be any lost time."

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mommabear - 7/3/2012 6:48 PM
0 Votes
I agree with Mr. Scott's comments. I am a teacher of 18 years, and am quickly losing faith with the direction of our district. I adore my students and parents, yet feel like a mother hen, trying to protect her chicks from harm. We need a credible, certified leader, who is qualified. This is a very sad time for the WCSD.

Eppie - 7/3/2012 6:12 AM
1 Vote
In Martinez’s last “businessman” position he was Chief Financial Officer of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Where he lead them to a $340,000,000 debt. Is this the type of businessman we want leading WCSD? http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=78343&terms=pedro%20martinez Last year Mr. Martinez suddenly left WCSD in the middle of the school year. Prior to that I spent a lot of time at school board meetings, other public meetings and private meetings with Martinez. He is totally unimpressive, in fact I thought he left WCSD and CPS after failing in each position. According to Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 391.170 and 391.171 Mr. Martinez is not qualified to be superintendent in Nevada. The News4 article above says Randy Drake WCSD attorney shows there is another statute that, “allows district to hire someone who isn’t licensed as long as there is someone on staff who is licensed to oversees academic programs.” At the same time they show a photo of NAC 391.110. I can’t find NAC 391.110. We had 25 candidates to chose from, wouldn’t it make more sense to hire someone who can get licensed? http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NAC/NAC-391.html The top job went to Martinez who isn’t remarkable in any way, probably isn’t qualified to be a superintendent in NV, “isn’t licensed,” doesn’t have a PHD, left WCSD suddenly in the middle of the school year, and failed as CFO in CPS. His biggest asset seems to be the fact that he worked with Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, (Medill Northwestern article above).

GregWiley - 7/1/2012 7:42 AM
0 Votes
You guys made a mistake hiring someone from the worst school district in the nation, the Chicago Public Schools. You'll learn the hard way. When teachers get axed left and right it will be done for business reasons and all in the name of what's best for the children. Watch administrative pay raises go higher as teachers get cut. That's how business executives work.

Scroller - 6/30/2012 4:56 PM
0 Votes
I think they know exactly what they are doing and the next time they bring the axe to the bargaining table, assuming there still is a bargaining table in place the teachers will find their advocate that they have lost will be non existent and they will have their man to roll over any grievances that might come into place. Heath Morrison fought for the kids and his teachers, this may not be the case now. I guess time will tell.

NVAdvocate - 6/30/2012 10:18 AM
0 Votes
Still not sure what all the fuss is about. Ken Grein cannot even respond to a question with a complete and logical sentence that provides the reader with an answer. Was he a teacher? Furthermore, while I value and admire teachers (my daughter is one), I see the world the way it really is, with good teachers and truly bad teachers.and it's a bell curve, like everything else on the planet, so teacher, businessman, no matter. Smart AND compassionate? That's what matters.

CARNNV - 6/30/2012 1:39 AM
1 Vote
I watched this happen in Healthcare! Turning healthcare into big business saw the Administrative leaders suddenly being folks with a degree in Healthcare Administration, that had never walked in the care givers shoes and really didn't seem to have a connection to the fact that we were #1 taking care of patients and #2 trying to meet the financial bottom line. I hate to see this happening in our school district! How does anyone think that an Administrator that has never had to teach students, or be responsible for the outcome of his teaching skills, can be given the responsibility of overseeing a School District? It's a shame that the District could not find a qualified candidate that would not have to depend on fellow Administrators to meet the BASIC job qualification (TEACHING EXPERIENCE)!!!! Nothing good came out of turning Healthcare into big business and I don't see how a non-educator can assist the students and teachers to improve the school system if he has no basic understanding of being on the front line! The students and teachers deserve better!!!!

tonysam - 6/29/2012 8:30 PM
2 Votes
I watched the Board of Trustees meeting today, and it was a total disgrace the open hostility of this board to educators. Dan Carne comes under my particular wrath because he clearly has no use for professional, career educators thinking somebody off the street can do an administrative job. Schools are NOT businesses, Dan. What is incredible is that half of these members were teachers or administrators, yet they had total hostility to career administrators. This may sound unpopular, but I believe the board was simply pandering to the Latino community for votes by approving somebody who shouldn't even be allowed to be any kind of school administrative position other than accounting. He is not a licensed teacher, he is not a licensed administrator, and yet he is allowed to run a district. How can he even BEGIN to talk about teaching and learning when he doesn't know one thing about it? The Board of Trustees needs to be recalled.

tscott - 6/29/2012 7:16 PM
1 Vote
I have been teaching for 14 years. 3 at a middle school and 11 at a local high school. Mr. Martinez does NOT meet the basic and primary requirement for being associated with education and especially being an administrator having zero certification in education. That is like a new mother with a week old child saying she knows how to raise teenagers. She may have great ideas, but only experience can speak with authority. Respectfully, Mr. Scott
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