UPDATE: Bob McKean was selected to become Portland Public Schools' interim superintendent without an active school administrator license. His license was reinstated Monday afternoon, after the start of school, and after McKean had appeared on OPB's Think Out Loud. The story below has been changed slightly from a version that posted earlier Monday.
It's become an annual tradition in Portland Public Schools for the superintendent to shake hands with parents and smile at students on the first day of school.
Two years ago, Carole Smith visited Sitton Elementary School in North Portland and took the occasion to highlight recent expansions of language immersion programs.
But Monday morning in Portland, it was Yousef Awwad smiling and shaking hands at Atkinson Elementary School in Southeast Portland, not the interim superintendent the school board selected two weeks ago.
Smith retired abruptly last month, leaving Awwad in place as acting Chief Executive Officer, a job he took on in addition to his official position as Chief Financial Officer and on top of his duties as Chief Operating Officer, which he was handed when Tony Magliano was put on administrative leave amid the district's lead drinking water problems.
Two weeks ago, Portland Public Schools board members announced they had selected Bob McKean as interim superintendent.
Since Smith's retirement, the district has been walking a tightrope: Board members wanted to have a new superintendent on board before the beginning of the school year, but they wanted to involve the public in some fashion, all while hiring the best possible candidate for a very challenging position.
The board selected McKean on Aug. 16. But the former Centennial School District superintendent had not kept his school administrator license current. The Teachers Standards and Practices Commission received McKean's renewal materials eight days later on Aug. 24. TSPC has a months-long backlog for license renewals, and McKean's license was not renewed in time for the beginning of school.
PPS spokesperson Rosie Fiallo explained McKean's licensing lapse as a result of his several years in retirement.
"Since he is coming out of retirement, we are awaiting his license renewal from the TSPC, which should be complete any day," Fiallo said. "As soon as that process is finalized, he will be active and visible in our schools and assume the official role of interim superintendent."
That's why Yousef Awwad, the acting CEO, was at Atkinson on the first day of school doing the traditional job of the superintendent, rather than the interim superintendent, Bob McKean.
At 1:35 p.m. Monday, the district's interim chief of communications, Courtney Westling confirmed that McKean's license had been renewed by the TSPC.
"Bob’s license came through about an hour ago, so he’s on the job," Westling said.
McKean has reportedly signed a contract with PPS, but it won't be public until the school board approves it, likely at a meeting Tuesday.