At their meeting Monday night, Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board members unanimously voted to appoint Tracy Olasimbo, the family engagement coordinator at Evanston Public Library, to fill the vacant seat left by the resignation of former board Vice President Marquise Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon resigned Aug. 8, and Olasimbo applied for the position along with 12 other community members. She will take Weatherspoon’s seat, effective immediately, until the April 2023 board elections. In her application, Olasimbo wrote that she would run to retain the same job.

Tracy Olasimbo Credit: Next Steps Evanston

According to her resume and application, which the RoundTable obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request with the district, Olasimbo is also a licensed substitute teacher with the Illinois State Board of Education and an equity consultant with YWCA Evanston and the Anti-Defamation League. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has served as the PTA co-president at Washington Elementary School and an executive committee member with the African American, Black and Caribbean Family Group.

Olasimbo grew up in Evanston and attended District 65 schools. In her application for the school board, she said she primarily wants to address opportunity gaps for Black and Brown special education students and what she sees as “lack of teacher/educator accountability” for perpetuating racial harm against students of color.

The school board “must address the blatant and subconscious racism that our students and families have to deal with on a constant basis,” she wrote.

“I will be operating from an antiracist and equity lens when engaging the community and with decision making,” Olasimbo said in the application. “As a board member, we should make sure we are publicly supporting each other and the superintendent while also holding each other accountable to make sure the students are the first priority and we all continue to grow in our journey of antiracism.”

Click here and here for more coverage of Monday night’s District 65 board meeting.

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

7 replies on “District 65 school board appoints Tracy Olasimbo as new member”

  1. To mirror some other readers who commented, I am sure the people commenting by posting are wonderful people. However, as a teacher myself and having taught in K-8 districts, the idea of being open to feedback about how I can best serve all the students in my classroom, school, and community is the opposite of divisive. It is taking information from missteps I have made and learning to do better, and is actually the very thing I believe we as a community are asking all our students to do. I fully support this decision by the D65 board to appoint Tracy Olasimbo. When working towards a better D65 for all our students we must look to the building of a compassionate and just community, and rather than centering the adult teachers, focus in on taking care to realize consequences of human actions on the students, in particular children who have historically experienced the most damaging effects.

  2. So glad to read that some people commenting are supporting the wonderful District 65 teachers. Hinting/ suggesting that there Is racism on their part is extremely hurtful. If the school board members can’t fully support the teachers who can they count on?

  3. Svetlana, I am a teacher in D65. A white male teacher. To be honest, I don’t put too much stock in what the board is doing or saying. They aren’t in the room doing the work on a daily basis, so their opinions do not hold much weight for me. I imagine Tracy is a great person, however she said it in her application because she most likely believes it (which is fine) and to help her get the seat because that’s where we are in this town. It’s group thought. Anyone who has different beliefs/thoughts/perspectives will not be considered. Simple as that. I would gladly have her into my room anytime. She can talk to any student she wants to about the way I treat students. Her quote, and apparently her way of thinking – in my opinion – is not progressive. It is divisive. It’s not “equitable” in the true sense of the word. All we can hope for is that she will be done in April of ‘23 and we, the people of Evanston elect rational thinking humanists who can bring ALL people together to work towards a better D65 for ALL students.

  4. Imagine if you are a teacher in D65 and an incoming member of the Board is accusing you, without evidence, of “perpetuating racial harm against students of color.” I am quoting the language from the article. Did Ms. Olasimbo actually write this in her application? How exactly does she plan to keep teachers “accountable?”

  5. I noticed that Ms. Olasimbo’s name was on the District’s List of Bills from the last meeting. I’m not sure what services she provided to the district before her appointment but will she be ceasing doing work for the district in light of her appointment to the board?

    I wish her well and good luck if she runs for election next year.

  6. She seems like a lovely person, but given her comments and status as an “antiracist” equity consultant, the board is clearly intent on ensuring there’s a conformity viewpoints governing our schools that rigidly believes any differences in outcomes is the result of teacher bias. My concern isn’t about rolling up our sleeves to identify and uproot any such bias, it’s with board members having reached a conclusion based on ideology without actually looking at the facts and particulars of any given issue.

    1. The board has made progress. Early childhood outcomes were not predictable by race for two years. Academic Skills Center is supporting children to get to grade level.

      On what do you base your comment “board members having reached a conclusion based on ideology without actually looking at the facts and particulars”?

      I certainly don’t get the impression that board members have ideologies that are not based in facts.

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