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District Won't Release Final Report On Withdrawn PPS Superintendent Finalist


Four Portland Public Schools board members (left to right: Mike Rosen, Amy Kohnstamm, Tom Koehler (at lecturn), Julie Esparza Brown) told reporters May 4 2017 that Atlanta school administrator Donyall Dickey would not become the district's next superintendent, two months after becoming the district's sole finalist.

Four Portland Public Schools board members (left to right: Mike Rosen, Amy Kohnstamm, Tom Koehler (at lecturn), Julie Esparza Brown) told reporters May 4 2017 that Atlanta school administrator Donyall Dickey would not become the district’s next superintendent, two months after becoming the district’s sole finalist.

Rob Manning/OPB

Portland Public Schools said Friday it will not release the final background report on the superintendent finalist that fell through.

Officially, Donyall Dickey withdrew from consideration. But weeks after being praised as a strong education leader, board members had soured on him.

The background report on Dickey appeared to be a big reason why.

While offering few specifics, board members said incidents in the report — and Dickey’s responses to them — raised trust issues.

OPB and other media requested the background report. But Portland Public Schools has denied them, after receiving a letter from Dickey’s attorney.

Donyall Dickey, chief academic officer and chief of schools in Atlanta Public Schools, was earlier named the finalist to become Portland's new superintendent.

Donyall Dickey, chief academic officer and chief of schools in Atlanta Public Schools, was earlier named the finalist to become Portland’s new superintendent.

Portland Public Schools/PPS

That letter objects to the report’s release, pointing out it includes “aged incidents that resulted in criminal and civil judgments against Dr. Dickey.” It says publicizing the report could harm Dickey’s professional reputation.

“Although these incidents occurred years ago, and were minor in nature, the specifics presented in the report, and the associated narrative regarding those events, are highly personal and would tend to cause embarrassment and harm to Dr. Dickey’s professional reputation if they were made public,” wrote attorney Thomas R. Johnson in an email addressed to PPS board chair Tom Koehler.

The letter cited two exemptions to releasing public records: one related to personal information, the other regarded internal communications. The letter on Dickey’s behalf further argues there is “minimal public interest” in releasing the information because Dickey is no longer seeking employment in Portland.

The letter convinced Portland Public Schools to keep the document secret.

“Taking this into consideration during our standard review, at the Board Chair’s direction in consultation with counsel, we are declining to release this record,” wrote public records officer Ryan Vandehey in an email to OPB.

Dickey told the Portland Tribune he pulled out, in part, over whether he’d be allowed to continue work as a consultant, as superintendent.

Portland’s interim superintendent Bob McKean is in place through June.

portland public schools donyall dickey

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