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Updated 8/14/2013. School District 65 announced on Aug. 12, that Hardy Murphy, Superintendent of School District 65, had resigned as the District’s Superintendent to pursue consulting opportunities. The resignation is effective Aug. 9. Pat Markham, director of communications, told the RoundTable Dr. Murphy advised administrative staff of his resignation early Monday morning.
Dr. Murphy said in a prepared statement that it was difficult to reach a decision to leave at this time, but that he and the Board agreed it was the right time. “The Board is at the beginning stages for developing a new strategic plan,” he said, adding that the Board can best accomplish that with the leadership that will implement the plan. He said by leaving now, at this stage of his career, he can take advantage of a “window of opportunity to continue making a professional contribution to education while at the same time giving him and his family more time to enjoy the simple pleasures life has to offer.”
In a prepared statement, School Board President Tracy Quattrocki said, “The Board would like to thank Dr. Murphy for his 13 years of distinguished service, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Ms. Quattrocki said, “While we realize this is a difficult time of year for a major transition, we believe the timing is best for Dr. Murphy given the opportunities he is considering.” She said the School Board “trusts that the well-established District 65 leadership team will be very effective in facilitating the transition while the Board seeks to hire an interim superintendent. We know that clear and consistent communications are essential, and we will be working directly with the District’s leadership team until an interim superintendent is in place. We also know that our talented and committed teachers and principals will ensure a smooth start to our upcoming school year.”
“The District 65 Educators’ Council has appreciated Dr. Murphy’s hard work and dedication to District 65 and its children,” Paula Zelinski, president of the District Educators Council (the teachers union), told the RoundTable. “We wish him well in the future. Although there will be a change in leadership, we have excellent teachers who will continue to plan for a creative and productive school year.”
The School Board has initiated a search for an interim superintendent for this school year, said Ms. Quattrocki, and in mid-September the Board will begin the process for hiring a permanent superintendent.
Conversations have taken place with the Illinois Association of School Boards to ensure the use of best practices in searching for a new superintendent. “We know that the Board represents all stakeholders in Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and we will work hard to ensure that the community will have ample opportunity to provide input into the process before a superintendent is hired to serve our District for the next generation of students,” said Ms. Quattrocki.
The School Board had recently began the process of developing a strategic plan that would guide the District over the next three to five years. It is likely that process will be deferred until a permanent superintendent is retained.
In a prepared statement, Dr. Murphy said there were many things he and his team accomplished during his 13 years at the District, but he said the most significant thing was “seeing the African American and Latino students in District 65 climb one rung of the achievement ladder, exceeding the average achievement for that of all students across the state of Illinois.
“It has very rewarding to know that while I served as Superintendent in District 65 we were able to change the culture of service delivery for students,” Dr. Murphy added. “Once upon a time students were pulled out of their classrooms for support services. With our instructional improvement initiative, we began more than a decade ago to bring services to the student, in the classroom, limiting the number of transitions and helping ensure that these students did not miss the instruction that their peers were experiencing.”
Dr. Murphy also highlighted District 65’s efforts to include student growth in professional appraisals. “The District has been recognized for how we developed a professional appraisal system that included student learning and growth as measures of professional success and for the supports that teachers receive through continued professional development throughout the year,” he said.
The statement issued by District 65 said, “Dr. Murphy’s career in District 65 was marked by innovative instructional initiatives that led to increased student achievement and successful implementation of state and nationally recognized programs. Dr. Murphy and his team most notably implemented the Two-Way Immersion program, the African-Centered Curriculum and Alternatives to Suspension. During his tenure the District experienced increased enrollments, improved infrastructure in technologies, financial stability and building maintenance and construction. His leadership was rooted in his strong desire to see that all of District 65’s students had the best opportunity for academic success.”
Both Ms. Quattrocki and Dr. Murphy declined to comment on Dr. Murphy’s resignation beyond what was said in the prepared statements.
Dr. Murphy became Superintendent of District 65 in July 1999. Prior School Boards extended his contract on many occasions. His current contract was set to expire in June 2015.