Release: Interim Superintendent
School Board Taps Veteran Educator Dr. Sandy Husk
PPS School Board Taps Veteran Educator as PPS Interim Superintendent
Dr. Sandy Husk Brings Track Record of Supporting School Teams
To Improve Student Achievement and Equity
The Portland Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to appoint Dr. Sandy Husk, who has 18 years of experience as a public school superintendent and a track record of promoting and supporting student achievement and equity, as the interim superintendent for Portland Public Schools. She starts February 12 providing a short transition before Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero wraps up his tenure on February 16.
Board members Julia Brim-Edwards and Andrew Scott, who led the process to identify, recruit and hire an interim superintendent, on Thursday night recommended the Board appoint Dr. Husk as the interim superintendent. The Board identified desired criteria for the interim superintendent, including a track record as an effective public school superintendent, experience leading a large Oregon school district or system, and an advocate of educational equity.
“Dr. Husk matches our Board’s criteria for an interim superintendent,” says Board Chair Gary Hollands. “She is an experienced school superintendent who led Oregon‘s second largest school district for more than 7 years and has a track record of promoting equity, proven instructional strategies and a culture of teamwork among all school employees.”
The School Board has begun the process for the recruitment of a new permanent superintendent and has indicated that Husk won’t be a candidate for the position.
“I’m pleased to be in a position where I can use my professional experience to contribute to student success in Portland,” Husk said. “My job will be to provide continuity and support for policies, programs and a budget that strengthen learning for all students in Portland Public Schools. I believe the central office exists to support what goes on in every school.”
Immediate tasks awaiting Husk include working with the Board and PPS staff to rebuild relationships after a month-long teacher strike and implementing the new contract in partnership with the Portland Association of Teachers, finalizing contracts with other represented employees, managing the Spring budget adoption process, including advising on needed budget cuts, continuing the modernization of Benson and the planning for Jefferson High School as well as the Center for Black Student Excellence. Portland Public Schools also is expected to ask voters in May to renew a local option levy to pay for at least 800 teachers annually.
“PPS students, parents, teachers and staff have endured a challenging fall,” Husk said. “I have a strong belief in empowering all school employees with good data, best practices, and supports to promote student success in every classroom, every day.”
Husk served as superintendent of Salem-Keizer Public Schools from 2006 to 2014. During her tenure, the district’s graduation rate rose and its dropout rate decreased. She successfully shepherded a bond measure to build new schools and renovate existing ones, which was accomplished on time and under budget. She also became a statewide leader on school reform that included advocacy for full-day kindergarten, while maintaining an active role in Salem-area community organizations.
“Dr. Husk walked into the Salem-Keizer School District seven years ago with a monumental challenge facing her: Rebuild the community’s trust in the district,” according to a 2013 editorial in the Salem Statesman-Journal. “Husk accomplished that and much more. She leaves behind a school district that has embraced her mantra of being relentlessly focused on student achievement.”
George Russell, a member of the Oregon Board of Education and former superintendent of Eugene School District 4J when Husk led Salem-Keizer Public Schools, described her as “very bright and very intuitive”. “She puts kids first,” Russell says. “She has a sense of how to keep on track to meet the needs of all students and is very sensitive to students who struggle. Her career reflects a commitment to educational equity, including bringing more teachers of color into classrooms.”
Before coming to Salem, Husk served as superintendent for public school districts in north Denver and Clarksville-Montgomery County, Tennessee. After leaving Salem, Husk served as the chief executive officer for the AVID Center in San Diego, a nonprofit that provides professional support to assist schools shift to a more equitable, student-centered approach and train educators to close the opportunity gap to prepare students for college, careers and life.
Husk began her career in education as an elementary school teacher and counselor, principal of an elementary school and alternative middle school, and also has served as a district supervisor of staff development and executive director of teaching and learning.
Husk earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the University of Georgia, a master’s degree in guidance and counseling at the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. in administration, curriculum and supervision at the University of Colorado, Denver.
She has maintained active involvement in national educational organizations, including as interim CEO for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, which helps classroom teachers, principals and superintendent learn and apply new teaching strategies. During 2023, Husk served in education-related executive-in-residence roles while working remotely from her home in Sisters, Oregon. She plans to live in Portland while serving as interim superintendent.
About Portland Public Schools
Portland Public Schools, founded in 1851, is Oregon’s largest PK-12 school district, with more than 42,000 students in 81 schools. PPS aspires to graduate compassionate, critical thinkers who can collaborate to solve problems and lead a more socially just world. Central to this goal is affirming and operationalizing our deeply held community values of racial equity, social justice, and inclusion. Learn more at pps.net.