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Portland Public Schools Owes An Answer About Diana Kruger. Here’s How to Help Us Get One.

Portland Public Schools owes its students, parents, and teachers an explanation for why Diana Kruger belongs in district leadership, what she does there, and if/how she’s working on the district’s anti-racism curriculum. 

Sign the petition to demand that Portland Public Schools release a public statement about why they’ve continued to employ Diana Kruger as a “program administrator for humanities” after removing her as the principal at Arleta Elementary School.

* By signing this petition you are signing up for updates from Bridgeliner, a weekly newsletter all about Portland.

The background:

The crisis at Arleta Elementary School burst into public view last year when a third-grade student took cocaine at school that they’d received from an older classmate.

That story went viral, and Diana Kruger was removed as principal less than two months later.

But a 42-page document that we got our hands on this week shows that the cocaine debacle was just the tip of the iceberg.

For weeks leading up to that, Arleta teachers and staff were complaining to PPS officials about a hostile, chaotic work environment under Kruger’s leadership.

Here are a few of the lowlights:

  • “I have heard Mrs. Kruger make casual jokes about race. Specifically, I have heard her say ‘I love having a black secretary because it makes people uncomfortable.'”
  • “Diana is great at forming friendships and speaking ‘education speak’ to people. Unfortunately, she is completely incapable of doing her job. The first day of school, no students [in] 3rd grade [or above] knew where they were supposed to go.”
  • “I watched the training video in late October about harassment and retaliation in the workplace and throughout it felt like it was describing my experience.”

Now we want to be extra clear: These are allegations, and Kruger’s side of the story might be very different.

(We reached out to Kruger by email yesterday to ask for an interview, and she replied: “I have never seen this document that you refer to…. I am forwarding your email to the PPS Communication Department to address your questions.”)

All that said, the allegations we’ve seen don’t look good for Kruger — and the fact that she’s married to a former police captain who built public shrines to Nazi soldiers doesn’t seem like a great sign, either.

So what can we do about it? 

That’s a tough question for us, TBH, because the threat of a sham defamation lawsuit is always in the back of our minds, even if the facts are on our side. (Here’s one reason why.)

But this much is clear: Portland Public Schools at least owes its students, parents, and teachers an explanation for why Diana Kruger deserves a leadership position in the district.

Here’s where PPS could start:

  • Who made the decision to hire Kruger, and why? PPS public information officer Karen Werstein told us that “the job was posted, Diana applied, and the supervisor of that program selected Diana.” OK, but why? And what did that supervisor know about the allegations made against Kruger when they hired her?
  • Did Kruger get a pay raise? It’s not the most important question, but the idea that someone could lose their job as principal and end up getting a pay bump is… kinda outrageous. Thankfully, salary information for public employees is a public record, and Werstein says she’ll get it to us.
  • What is Kruger doing in this new role? We asked Werstein about rumors that Kruger is now working on the district’s anti-racist curriculum, and she denied it. “[Diana], like our teachers and the team that develops all school curriculum, uses equity and teaching for tolerance standards to ensure all of our curricula is anti-racist.” So, what is her role then? And where are these rumors coming from?

If you agree that PPS leadership owes answers to these Qs, we’d ask that you sign and share this petition to help us get the district’s attention.

And if you appreciate our work as an independent watchdog, we’d ask you to become a Bridgeliner member today to support it.

It’s only $1 for the first month if you use the discount code PREVIEW — and in addition to making our work possible, your membership will get you access to all the latest updates on this story as our sleuthing unfolds. 🕵️