At a specially called School Board meeting on June 17, Board President Suni Kartha announced that Superintendent Paul Goren and the School Board mutually agreed to a change in leadership. Ms. Kartha read much of a letter that was sent to members of the District 65 community on June 14, which is printed in full at page 25. She said, “The Board sincerely thanks Dr. Goren for his five years of leadership.”
Dr. Goren took over as Superintendent on July 1, 2014, and his initial contract was extended by the School Board in 2016 to June 30, 2021. On June 17, the Board approved a Separation Agreement under which Dr. Goren resigns on June 30, 2019, and his contract running through June 30, 2021 is terminated.
Under the Separation Agreement, Dr. Goren will receive an amount equal to 16 weeks of his annual base annual salary, COBRA insurance from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019, and payment for unused vacation days. Dr. Goren agrees to release the District, the School Board and its members of any claims arising out of his employment or resignation, including any claims under the School Code, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and certain other Acts.
Ms. Kartha outlined the plan going forward. She said the Board would be interviewing search firms at the June 17 meeting and would select one of the firms to assist in the search for an Interim Superintendent. She said the Board would interview candidates during the summer and appoint an Interim Superintendent at its Aug. 19 Board meeting. The Interim Superintendent will serve during the 2019-2020 school year.
In the meantime, Ms. Kartha said that Stacy Beardsley, the current Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, will serve as an Interim Superintendent until Aug. 19.
The search firm will also assist the School Board in a search for a Superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year and subsequent years. The Board did not decide on a time line to hire a Superintendent, but it is likely one will be selected by January 2020.
“The Board understands that the uncertainty raised by a change in leadership is bound to cause some discomfort and anxiety within our District and our community,” said Ms. Kartha. “We assure you that we are working hard to ensure a smooth leadership transition and we intend to engage is a process that is transparent and inclusive of stakeholder voices to identify the next Superintendent of District 65.”
Board Selects BWP & Associates
At the June 17 meeting, the School Board interviewed representatives of four search firms to assist in finding an Interim Superintendent and a Superintendent: Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; BWP & Associates; School Exec Connect; and Ray & Associates, Inc.
Representatives of each firm were given the opportunity to make a 10-minute presentation, and then members of the Board had an opportunity to ask questions. Ms. Kartha and Board Vice President Anya Tanyavutti asked most of the questions, which centered on each firm’s capacity to attract and identify a racially diverse set of candidates, and candidates who were committed to racial equity.
After the interview process, members of the Board quickly narrowed the field to two of the firms. After a relatively short discussion, the Board decided to retain BWP & Associates, assuming a reference check did not raise any concerns.
Board members said a key factor in their selection of BWP was the fact that Debra Hill, a long time Evanston resident with many connections throughout the community, would be a member of the search team.
Dr. Hill was a classroom teacher at School District 65, an Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at District 65 from 1992-2000, and an Interim Superintendent of District 65 in 1998-1999. Dr. Hill has also served on the Evanston United Way Board, the Foster Reading Center Board of Directors, the Evanston Arts Council, and has worked with many other Evanston community organizations and committees.
She is the Managing Director of BWP.
Board members thought Dr. Hill’s knowledge of Evanston and her connections in the community would be valuable in assisting in the search for a new Superintendent.