PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland Public Schools audit in 2019 from the Oregon secretary of state’s office revealed problems including shortcomings at schools serving large numbers of historically underrepresented and lower-income students.
A follow-up report released on Wednesday shows the district still has a lot of that same work to do, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The original audit said Portland Public Schools had failed students of color and students from low-income households in terms of student success, had not made adequate efforts to mitigate high turnover of employees and did not have a transparent budget.
In its response, PPS highlighted “significant progress” it says the district is making, while acknowledging that it has work still remaining, particularly to improve outcomes for students of color.
“We appreciate the Oregon Audits Division for sharing its thoughts on the issues facing PPS,” Amy Kohnstamm, chair of the PPS school board audit committee, and Jonathan Garcia, PPS chief of staff, wrote in a joint statement. “We agree: PPS still has substantial work to do to improve results for Black, Indigenous and Students of Color (BIPOC).”
The follow-up report, from Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and Oregon Audits Division Audits Director Kip Memmott, notes the district has improved support for schools that serve high percentages of lower-income students, including adding staff such as counselors and assistant principals.
It also said PPS has done some work to prioritize racial equity and increase investment into instructional staff development. Auditors also credited PPS for developing a strategic plan and making its budget more transparent.
“The district’s prioritization of racial equity is important and must be highlighted,” Secretary Fagan said Wednesday morning in a press conference. “And because of the district’s priority for racial equity, the district should take immediate steps to implement the remaining recommendations of this audit.”