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Tuesday, February 07, 2023
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Dr. Matthew Gutiérrez will begin his duties as Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent on June 1. 

Black community leaders concerned following selection of school superintendent Gutiérrez

Black community leaders raised concerns after the Madison Metropolitan School District selected Dr. Matthew Gutiérrez as its new superintendent, citing a lack of experience and faith in representing the interests of the black population.

In a show of solidarity, 13 black community leaders sent a letter to the Madison School Board last week expressing their concerns about Gutiérrez. The leaders consisted of Pastor Marcus Allen, Ray Allen, Ruben Anthony, Pastor Joseph Baring, Kaleem Caire, Carola Gaines, Pastor Alex Gee, Greg Jones, Kirbie Mack, Vanessa McDowell, John Odom, Teresa Sanders and Yolanda Shelton Morris.

In their letter, the leaders called the superintendent selection process “flawed,” saying it “did not adequately represent the Black community” according to the CapTimes. 

The letter also expressed concerns about Gutiérrez’s past experience with larger districts. 

“There is absolutely no evidence exhibited in his resume or experience that demonstrates he is capable of performing well with little to no background in transforming school districts of this magnitude,” the letter said.

Gutiérrez said at a meeting in January he would be prepared to head up a larger school district. He cited his short role as assistant superintendent of a 53,000-student school district in suburban Dallas.

“It’s really the same work. The difference is you’re having to connect with more people,” Gutiérrez said.

From a prior trip to Madison, Gutiérrez plans to continue the school district’s strong sense of community involvement in his new position. 

“During my visit to Madison, I was extremely impressed with the high level of community involvement and how community members hold education as a top priority,” Gutiérrez said. “Community engagement and support to teachers, students and families will be top priorities.” 

The black community leaders’ letter explained their dissatisfaction with Gutiérrez’s responses provided to their questions during a Jan. 15 meeting. 

“We expected a greater and broader background of experience, skills and abilities that would move the Madison District further in cultural competency, social justice, and academic outcomes,” the letter said. “Dr. Gutiérrez is woefully lacking in all of these categories.”

The school board announced Gutiérrez over two other candidates on Jan. 24 in an unanimous decision, according to Wisconsin State Journal. 

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Despite the leader’s criticism, Board of Education President Gloria Reyes emphasized the collective role the community had in selecting Gutiérrez.

“It was unprecedented community input that helped develop a leadership profile representing the voices of our community serving as our guide,” Reyes said. “The level of community involvement in this process is something to be very proud of.” 

While differing opinions resulted from Gutiérrez’s selection, Reyes responded in a letter the appointment was selected as a result of “the most transparent community involved hiring” ever undertaken by the district, the Cap Times reported. 

However, Reyes noted that as “elected officials, it is the board’s responsibility to make the final decision.” 

Dr. Gutiérrez currently serves as the superintendent in the Seguin Independent School District in Texas. He will begin his tenure with MMSD on June 1. Gutiérrez plans to meet with the school board, faculty and the community before the end of the school year, according to NBC15.

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