Superintendent Devon Horton

Dr. Michael Nabors, President of the Evanston/North Shore NAACP, held a press conference just outside the front entrance to the Joseph E. Hill Administration Building today at 3 p.m. About 25 faith leaders and community members joined with him.

District 65’s setting priorities to bring students back to school for in-person learning and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal were the impetus for the gathering.

“We, the Evanston/North Shore National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, various houses of worship, and community residents are in full support of Dr. Devon Horton and his administration and the District 65 School Board under the leadership of President Anya Tanyavutti,” said Dr. Nabors. “We have been both disheartened and chagrined by negative, threatening and baseless critiques aimed at Dr. Horton and District 65 regarding equity initiatives and outreach to our inclusive, interracial and multicultural community. In an effort to ensure equity for Black and brown students, for special education students, and LGBTQ students, Dr. Horton has offered first priority of seats for in-person learning.”

Earlier this week, on Oct. 5, Dr. Horton provided an update on the District’s plan to return to in-person learning. Because of staffing considerations and building capacities, he said, it is necessary to phase-in the return of students whose families requested in-person learning. In the first phase, he said, students in pre-K to grade 5 with three or more of the five “priority factors” will be brought back for in-person learning.

The five factors are:

  • Special Education – Does the student have an IEP or 504 Plan?
  • Emerging Bilingual (EB) – Is the student an Emergent Bilingual?
  • Low Income: Is the student eligible for free or reduced price meals?
  • McKinney Vento: Is the student currently experiencing transitional living?
  • Age: Is the student in early childhood (0-5 years old), K, 1st grade, or 2nd grade? 

Under the plan, all middle school students will continue with remote learning at this time. The goal is to bring back every child for in-person learning this school year whose family indicated a preference for in-person learning, said Dr. Horton.

“We are aware of the disturbing and distressing statistics related to ongoing struggles that these students undergo, both locally and nationally,” said Dr. Nabors. “Racism, injustice and inequities are deeply moral issues that have been tearing the very fabric of America, for four hundred and one years. It is no longer a matter of choosing sides and truthfully, it never was. Rather, it is a matter of believing that truth is more powerful than lies, right is stronger than wrong, and equality is greater than inequality.

“Dr. Devon Horton has worked with dozens of community leaders, since the moment he arrived in Evanston this summer,” continued Dr. Nabors. “In addition, he has reached out to different organizations and houses of worship in an effort to share each step and initiative for moving forward. With a nation that seems to be moving backwards when it comes to race relations, it is good to know that District 65 in Evanston is moving full force, forward. 

“We commit ourselves to working with District 65 to carry out long overdue initiatives that will bring justice to all of our children, teachers, staff and administrators.”

In a separate interview after Dr. Nabors spoke, Dr. Horton said, “Before I came into Evanston, the community said, out of the gate, that they wanted me to focus on equity and to close the achievement gap. And that wasn’t just the Board speaking but the community. I feel good about our efforts. I’m not in this alone. It’s a community effort.”

To review Dr. Nabor’s full statement, click here.


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...