At the May 18 District 65 School Board meeting, Superintendent Paul Goren laid out a six-step process to hire new principals for the District. Parts of the process were used in recently hiring a new principal for Bessie Rhodes magnet school and may be used to hire new principals for Nichols Middle School and Oakton Elementary School.

“Hiring exceptional leaders for each school is a top priority in District 65,” said Dr. Goren in a memo to the Board. “We have the obvious goal to hire the best, the brightest, experienced leaders who can be instructional leaders and community leaders in each of our schools,” he said.

The six steps are: 1) communicate the process to the school community; 2) develop a leadership profile, with input from parents and teachers; 3) administrators narrow the pool of candidates to eight persons; 4) Dr. Goren, assistant superintendents, two principals and one special services supervisor conduct in-depth interviews and narrow the field to four or five candidates; 5) a School Interview Committee, consisting of four teachers, four parents and two administrators, conduct interviews open to the public, and select three candidates to advance for final interviews; and 6) Dr. Goren conducts final interviews, at which leaders of the teachers’ union may attend and provide input. He then selects and recommends the candidate for Board approval.

Board member Claudia Garrison, a former teacher, argued that a representative of the teachers’ union should be included in step three, where the candidate pool is winnowed down to eight persons. Dr. Goren replied, “I want to be as inclusive as possible, but I have to be held accountable.” He said he wanted to be sure that he felt comfortable with the candidates who were brought forward for additional interviews.

Referring to public interviews provided for in step 5, Board member Jennifer Phillips said it is “unfair to candidates” to put themselves out publicly, especially within district candidates. Other Board members expressed concerns about the logistics of conducting four or five interviews in public and then also in private. They concurred that they would prefer to have the School Interview Committee conduct interviews in private, if conducting interviews both in public and then in private became problematic.

It is anticipated that the principal hiring process for Nichols and Oakton may be adjusted and that administrators will provide the Board with a new memorandum outlining the process sometime in the future.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...