PPS announces superintendent pick



Dr. Donyall Dickey. Photo from PPS website.

Portland Public Schools has had a tumultuous year. It started with the discovery of lead and radon contamination in schools across the city.

Then, in July, longtime Superintendent Carole Smith resigned in the wake of the lead crisis.

In September, when PPS board members refused to schedule a November  a vote for a bond measure, students walked out in protest.

Then, bad weather conditions caused school to be cancelled for nine days, forcing the school year to be extended.  All this while PPS has been under the direction of an interim superintendent, Bob McKean.

In the face of this turmoil and upheaval, PPS appears to be leaning toward hiring the current Atlanta Public Schools Chief of Schools of to replace Smith. Dr. Donyall Dickey was named on March 3 as the only finalist for Superintendent of PPS.

As The Oregonian put it, “provided a visit to Atlanta [by members of the board] and contract negotiations go well,” Dickey is likely to take over the job soon.

According to a PPS press release, Dickey “has an extensive record of success in urban school districts, from classroom instruction to district-wide leadership, turning around underperforming schools and helping students achieve high academic standards.”

Hailing from Atlanta, Dickey’s background is far different than what can he can expect to find  in the Portland Public School’s environment. However, Lincoln Principal Peyton Chapman is not worried about differences.

“Atlanta and PPS are roughly the same size as PPS has nearly 90 schools and 43,000 students. PPS is a diverse school district with several high schools with 70 percent or more of their students receiving free and reduced meals. We also have several high schools with more than 50 percent of the student population defined as ‘historically underserved,’” Chapman says.

On the other hand, 76 percent of students in the Atlanta district are receiving free and reduced meals. And while PPS is 55 percent white, the Atlanta district is 74 percent black.

Although most teachers are hopeful about Dickey’s future with PPS, Lincoln’s David Bailey has some reservations. Other than the fact that Dickey has little classroom experience, Bailey is worried that Dickey “seems to have bounced from job to job” leading him “to wonder how long he will stay in Portland before another offer comes forward.”

How long will he stay? Only time will tell. But until then, the schools seems to have made a popular decision as it looks to draw a close to a tumultuous year that has thrown the district nothing but surprises.

The Cardinal Times reached out to Dr. Dickey about his position, but he did not respond.