Dr. Devon Horton

At the District 65 School Board meeting on Dec. 16, the Board unanimously approved a three-year contract with Dr. Devon Horton as Superintendent of the District. The contract is effective July 1, 2020.

After the vote, Suni Kartha, Board President, said, “I am extraordinarily thrilled to announce, starting over the summer, our new Superintendent of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is Dr. Devon Horton.” Ms. Kartha said he fits the leadership profile developed with community input and adopted by the Board.

Dr. Horton is currently Chief of Schools for the Jefferson County Public School System in Louisville, Kentucky, and brings “a wealth of experience in education,” said Ms. Kartha.

He began his career in Chicago Public Schools, where he was a middle school teacher for 10 years before moving into building administration. He transitioned into a central office role in 2014 in East St. Louis, where he served as the Deputy Superintendent of Achievement and Administration. He transitioned to his current position in Jefferson County in 2018.

Dr. Horton received a Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership from Chicago State University in 2005 and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Chicago State University in 2018.

Ms. Katha said, “Dr. Horton’s philosophy centers on educational equity as the lever to better student outcomes. He has an impressive list of accomplishments. Dr. Horton’s work has led to demonstrable increases in MAP scores, and reductions in suspensions, particularly for students of color.”

 In a prepared statement, Ms. Kartha expanded, saying Dr. Horton’s work included:

  • implementing a district-wide racial equity policy, including prioritizing restorative practices and setting and monitoring equity-based goals to measure school improvement;
  • spearheading work on teacher development and retention, creating systems that work with local universities to create a pipeline of diverse teachers that demonstrate culturally responsive practices;
  • establishing a district-wide dashboard to make student data more relevant, transparent, and actionable for all stakeholders; and
  • creating regular systems of two-way communication to maximize collaboration with multiple stakeholder groups.

Ms. Kartha added, “Dr. Horton’s mentors and colleagues call him a collaborator, passionate and professional leader. The feedback from focus groups conducted during our Day in Evanston, which represented parents, educators, and community leaders was overwhelmingly positive. His values, his experience and his vision are perfectly aligned to continue to expand on District 65’s priorities related to racial and educational equity.”

At the meeting, Dr. Horton said, “I am excited. It’s been a long time coming for myself, my beautiful wife and my children. They know how passionate I am about changing lives.

“To be honest, District 65 is a special place. Typically, the term I would say, ‘disruptive innovation’ is what you’ll hear in the tech world,” giving an example of the shift from Blockbuster to Netflix.

“I look at District 65 in a very similar format. As I listen to conversations and the statements made by the community and particularly the miraculous students and the passion that they have, this does not happen in many places.”

He commended the Board, said the District had an amazing staff that was talented and skilled, and an engaged community.

“So when I speak about disruptive you guys are being disruptive here at District 65. And disruptive sometimes get as a bad connotation. But it’s the right work that’s needed. You talk about racial equity, LGBTQ support, the support of our social classes.

“There will be times when I’ll speak to you a lot. But I want to close this off, and I say this a lot: Students do not fail. As I listen tonight to many of you speak, what I heard was it’s the social structures that we as adults support and we create that fail our students. And at District 65, you guys, we’re going to do something about that.”

Meg Krulee, President of the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union), welcomed Dr. Horton, and invited him to collaborate with and build a strong working relationship with educators and other stakeholders in the District.

“We hope that the new Superintendent will foster a culture of trust – one that celebrates our successes, as well as challenges us around opportunities for growth.”

In a prepared statement, Dr. Horton added, “I am humbled and ready to join the Evanston/Skokie family on the journey to becoming a national model district.”

A full bio is available at district65.net.

Larry Gavin

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...