Evanston/Skokie District 65 will pay resigning Superintendent Hardy Murphy a severance payment of $175,000 as full payment for the remaining two years of his contract.

Evanston/Skokie District 65 will pay resigning Superintendent Hardy Murphy a severance payment of $175,000 as full payment for the remaining two years of his contract.

The deal was announced Monday night at a regular meeting of the school board.

The news came one week after Murphy’s resignation was announced, effective August 9, after 13 years on the job.

Board president Tracy Quattrocki said the board felt the separation agreement was “fair and respectful of Dr. Murphy’s 13 years of service to the district.”

She added “there are no further financial obligations to Dr. Murphy beyond this amount.”

In fact, she declared that the cost of salary and benefits to an interim superintendent, plus the $175,000 payment to Murphy, should be “revenue neutral.”

That is, she said, “the amount being paid to Dr. Murphy and the additional salary and benefit costs for the interim superintendent, and any other related administrative costs for this school year, will have little or no impact on this year’s budget.”

In the meantime, Quattrocki said that negotiations are proceeding for hiring an interim superintendent, whose name the board expects to announce “within the week.”

The board will proceed with its previously announced plan to begin seeking a permanent replacement for Murphy in mid-September.

In the meantime, Quattrocki said all is in readiness for a “smooth” opening of school next Monday.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Outrageous!

    So it wasn't a retirement after all– he was bought out.  And at great cost to D65.  I don't even want to think about what that $175K could be used for, for you know… actually educating our kids. 

    I suppose we knew this was coming, given the past Board's continual extending of his contract. While I think it's for the good of D65 that Dr. Murphy is gone, it was a big price to pay.

    1. It never was a retirement

      He resigned. Apparently pushed by the Board. 

      The cost of the push was $175K versus about $600K in contracted salary for the next 2 years.

      So what are you complaining about? 

  2. He had a contract

    He had a contract. It's an acceptable buy out considering he had $600,000 left on his contract. 

    1. He walked out…

      When you walk out on a contract or quit a job, you don't automatically get paid severance.  That's happening at Metra in a very public attempt to keep the former Director quiet.  Unless the school board wants to keep Hardy quiet about something – oh wait, I forgot… these are the people who have cowered in his bullying shadow while he ran District 65 into the ground.  Why should they say something now?  Pretty classic – tough campaign trail talk, then nothing.

      Like he didn't do enough damage to the children he was supposed to be a champion for – now we'll take a last kick in the financials.

      Maybe with Hardy not around to keep his staff on a leash, someone will finally start asking how the District's financials are for real?  Unlikely.

      Please remember that all of the continued poor service provided by the District's elected and appointed officials only hurts the kids.  Then again, as a wise man pointed out awhile ago, children's schools and their politics are all about adults.  So sad.

      1. I’m not sure what you mean by

        I'm not sure what you mean by "ran D65 into the ground." Do you mean financially? I don't think there was a single school district in IL or in the country that wasn't affected by the economic downturn (IL districts more so due school fundings relying so heavily on property taxes).

        Or maybe you mean academically? Let's remember that Dr. Murphy was the superintendent for all of the 13 years since the No Child Left Behind Law has been enacted (2001 start). (In other words, he's the only supt. the district has had since the advent of NCLB.) The ISAT has also changed significantly over that time…so we're really talking about comparing apples to oranges whether comparing achievement "pre-Murphy" or "during Murphy."

        While I wasn't the biggest fan of the newly-departed supt., I will say that his timing is very appropriate, what with the Common Core Standards and soon-to-be-implemented PARCC assessments (2014-2015). Thirteen years is a long tenure for the position in any case, and I can admire to a certain degree his tenacity and wherewithal in what has been a challenging decade for American public education.

        I think history will judge Dr. Murphy more kindly than we might predict.

        1. Depends on who “writes” the history

          "I think history will judge Dr. Murphy more kindly than we might predict" Time will tell and depends who writes it. No doubt that Dr. Murphy's tenure over 13 years included many challenging issues and changes. But that's public education in general and Evanston's dynamics provide further challenges and opportunties for a Superintendent. The next Superintendent at D65 will also face many challenges and issues, some known like implementing Common Core Standards and the PARCC assessment, but many unknown issues will also confront this person. The issue is how does the Superintendent lead and manage the district. Dr. Murphy has done many good things for the district and has several supporters in Evanston. However, if you talk with former Board members, Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, you will discover a different side of Dr. Murphy. He's divisive.He leads by intimidation. He doesn't listen. He provides skewed, incomplete, and at times incorrect information to advance his agenda. (look at former School Board packets) He didn't work well with D202 and our students suffer as a result. He didn't work well with all our different community groups and our students suffer. But the past is done, and as Tressa Randolph titled her comment, "Move on…" Our community will be best served in identifying a real leader who will embrace and unite all parts of our community to best serve the needs of all students in Evanston. This is no easy task, and will require input from all parts of Evanston and the diligence of our newly elected School Board.

  3. School board takes care of its own

    School board members could not admit they made a mistake keeping Murphy so they had to cover their tracks with severance so they looked like he was a 'good' employee.

    He resigned!  If Wall Street gives a gift to someone who resigns, it is in the press they next day. Here they get praise for fairness.  This is similar to their giving a promotion and a salary bump just before someone is going to resign or retire —"they take care of their own" and the taxpayers pay.

    Will the schoosl never learn — they are not there to take care of each other they are there for the taxpayers and benefit of the city and its people — not themselves.

  4. School Board’s Surprise

    Maybe we should be complaining that the school board, out and out, lied to the public about the his quitting and that he wanted to look into some contract opportunities. They waited until he was out the door with check in hand to tell the truth.

    Now, they have what they wanted at the taxpayer’s cost of $175,000. Oh, that’s right; the board thinks that it is their money to spend any way they want. Will they cut a couple teachers to get the money back and show they know how to save a buck? After all, he did quit and this was their little gift to him.

    I don’t think that this school board can ever be TRUSTED again.


  5. Breech of Contract ?

    Alternatively the Board can sue him for Breeech of Contract.  However many are just happy to see him go and would ONLY say "Don't let the door hit you as you leave."

    1. Move on…

      I have been following comments on this site for many years, and more recently since August 12, 2013.  Predictably, so many continue to utilize this forum to vent, and lambast the former Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Hardy Murphy.  It’s most unbecoming to our community, and I find continued negative comments tarnish the image of Evanston we’d like to project, especially to our children.  It’s like standing by witnessing humans who enjoy kicking and beating a dead horse until blood and innards ooze.

      Today I believe our time is better spent participating as a community collaboratively and productively along side d65 school board members moving toward evaluating a suitable interim superintendent, selecting a new superintendent and envisioning strategic goals.

      I hope Dr. Murphy’s career prospects elevate as quickly as did mine recently, and I hope he continues to have faith that “things are going to change for the better”.  I am confident the former superintendent will transition smoothly during this separation as well as so many others have done under the same or similar circumstances.

      1. We must not forget why Murphy was unpopular by many

        Hi Tressa,

        You participated this year in an Evanston-sponsored forum about race where folks talked about their experiences of "institutional racism."  As a D65 employee, I hope you don't think there is institutional racism at D65. If so, parents would love to hear about it.

        In my opinion, therein lies the problem. If you're white and you oppose a black superintendent, well, voila…it must be racism, according to a few. Most Evanstonians are appalled at PEG and how it has been applied to D202. Those who criticized it have quickly been labelled racist by some.

        I happen to think Evanston is a better place when people can engage in productive criticism of their leaders without baseless accusations. I think it is worse when some people yell racism anytime someone says something disagreeable. I'm not saying you did but a few here have.

        No, we should not move on. We should not forget why Murphy was divisive. We must make sure the next superintendent has clear and transparent objectives with policies that are not based solely on race. We need to raise the bar not lower it.

        1. Ahhhh… Anonymous Al.  I see

          Ahhhh… Anonymous Al.  I see you're still shrouded in darkness, hidden and nameless.  Why did you raise the issue of race and racisim?  I didn't.  Are you basing your assumptions that because I am African American and so is Dr. Murphy that he and I are somehow bound by duty, loyolty, and mutual respect simply by virtue of our skin color alone? Is that how you establish your relationships… Based on skin color?  Nevermind. Rhetorical question.

          You've missed the point.  Re-read the message.


          1. Is there institutional racism at D65?

            I wasn't aware that you are an African-American when I posted yesterday. I understand that you are a D65 employee and you attended this year a forum on race where folks talked about their experiences of "institutional racism." Mayor Tisdahl and Alderman Delores Holmes attended the forum, too.

            But since you mentioned race in a subtle aside against me, it made me curious so I did some more research. It appears you have brought up race several times on this board. As you wished Murphy a sweet 'H'ardy' farewell and warned that any criticism of him is not good for the community, you didn't share the same sentiment for the superintendent that preceded Murphy. I speak of Darwin Johnson who you made clear was a "white man." Here's a quote from you dated Sept. 28, 2007 in an Evanstonnow post:

            "Under Johnson and for my kids, the standard set for school district 65 as it relates to students of color wasn’t that “mediocrity is good enough” but instead we don’t care whether or not black students fail. At that time, I appealed to the pta. There, I was invisible and ignored.Who took pity? No one. Not the white superintendent, not the white community, not the white pta, not the white administration, and not the white board of education. No one and no bodies…It was under Dr. Johnson’s superintendence, a white man that helped shape my paradigms and philosophical attitudes as it relates to the unwillingness to depend on others to achieve academic success for my children."

            I know that was six years ago but I can't help wondering, was what you wrote a "productive and constructive transition?"  Was it "compassionate behavior" toward the "white superintendent?" It seemed you were really unhappy about people of a particular persuasion. 

            So, is there institutional racism at D65?

          2. Parents Take Control of Their Child’s Academic Destiny!

            How is it that you are not aware I am African-American when you posted yesterday? What propelled you to select one small portion of my writings out of context from 6 years ago? Inherent in the selection you chose, one could probably conclude I’m Black, but not you, right? I can only determine your selection is born out of desire to justify your reply.

            Not only did I attend the forum on race and institutionalized racism, I stood up and spoke at the microphone at least 3 times. Pardon me, but if you were present at the event, and didn’t sit at the Anonymous/Invisible table; how did you not know I’m African-American when you posted? I think it unfortunate you did not take away knowledge from the forums. The narrator explained to those in attendance, “…institutionalized racism in the public education system began many centuries ago… it’s a nationwide phenomenon that is pervasive today…” Having been written, that includes Evanston, right? And for the record, I do not work at D65.

            Six years ago, I was speaking to the community about relying on their own parental resources and networks to improve their child’s education, if need be, and not to rely solely and exclusively on District 65 for their child’s educational achievements.

            “…under Dr. Johnson’s superintendence, a white man, helped me to shape my paradigms and philosophical attitudes as it relates to my unwillingness to depend on others to achieve academic success for my children.”

            I read this as a compliment, not an insult as my children are all academically successful. Thank you, Dr. Johnson for ignoring me.Was it a productive conversation then and now? To the question I say: Absolutely! Why is it that you’re left wondering? Do you not believe speaking to parents about independence, self-sufficiency and letting go of dependency worthy.

            You’re the one who seems to take great joy playing the race card, not I.

            Recently I’ve read posts regarding one human being which are baseless assumptions conjecture absent ALL facts. I did not warn any one not to criticize any other. And I'm not defending the former superintendent in particular to the exclusion of the entire community or myself. I would like to be treated fairly if I were ever found in the same or similar circumstance, and I'd expect the same consideration extended to you. Never the less, if expending and wasting your time being inhumane, cruel, malicious, hateful, vicious, and spiteful, while inflicting undue pain and suffering on others floats your boat, knock yourself out.

  6. We’ll never know

    Generally speaking, if an executive quits, regardless of having a contract, you don't receive severance. If you're fired and you have a contract, you get severance. Not always the case, of course, because there can be a negotiated settlement. Although the $175,000 payment is "reasonable" based on the remaining amount of the contract, I think Murphy was exceptionally well compensated in the past and didn't need a "thank you for your past service" payment, especially for someone resigning two weeks before the start of school. I doubt we'll ever know exactly what occurred. Having spoken with a couple board members who left the board, in good part because of Mr. Murphy's lack of leadership, odd ideas and authoritarian approach, and my own observations, not sorry to see him go. I have concerns that a replacement will be any better. I wish there could be some kind of consolidation of D65 and D202, since I have long admired the way D202 is managed and feel just the opposite of D65. I doubt there's much hope for that.

  7. So, which is it?

    I am very confused.  If Supt. Murphy asked to leave when he was under contract with the district, because he wanted to take advantage of lucrative consulting opportunities, why would the board vote to give him severance pay?  If the board wanted him to leave while he had a contract, I can see why they would have to pay him some kind of settlement.  But if it is really true that Supt. Murphy wanted out of his contract for lucrative consulting, I don't understand the purpose of the $175,000 payment.  Does anyone know if any of that payment will result in his being eligible for a higher Illinois pension than if he had not received it?

  8. Next Supt.

    I hope the school board chooses the next Superintendent based on the content of his character and not the color of his skin.

  9. Murphy

    He should be paying the district back for all the damage he has done to teachers and staff.

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