Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy today announced he’s resigned to pursue consulting opportunities.

Murphy has served as superintendent for the past 13 years. The resignation is effective as of last Friday. 

School Board President Tracy Quattrocki said the board “would like to thank Dr. Murphy for his 13 years of distinguished service and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

The resignation announcement came less than three weeks after the board held a closed-door meeting July 24 to evaluate the superintendent’s performance.

In years past Murphy had routinely received contract extensions from the board guaranteeing his job five years into the future, but recent elections brought new members to the board who were less supportive of his performance

He got another contract extension in 2010, but no pay hike, and then a pay hike but no contract extension in 2011. At that time he was earning nearly $279,000 in total compensation. 

But Murphy’s contract at that point still extended through mid-2015, and it was not immediately clear whether under the terms of his resignation he will collect any pay for that remaining term. 

The board has started a search for an interim superintendent for this school year and will hold a closed-door meeting at 5 p.m. today on that issue, Quattrocki said,

“While we realize this is a difficult time of year for a major transition, we believe the timing is best for Dr. Murphy given the opportunities he is considering,” she added.

“The board trusts that the well-established District 65 leadership team will be very effective in facilitating the transition while the Board seeks to hire an interim superintendent. We know that clear and consistent communications are essential, and we will be working directly with the District’s leadership team until an interim superintendent is in place.  We also know that our talented and committed teachers and principals will ensure a smooth start to our upcoming school year.”

Quattrocki said the search for a permanent superintendent will start next month and that the board plans to “work hard to ensure that the community will have ample opportunity to provide input into the process before a superintendent is hired to serve our district for the next generation of students.”

During Murphy’s tenure District 65 adopted several instructional initiatives that were credited with improving student achievement.

They included the two-way immersion English-Spanish language program, the African-centered curriculum and alternatives to suspension.

Related stories

School chief comments on his resignation

Board president sends letter to D65 families

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This is interesting

    Murphy's abrupt resignation seems unusual. Didn't Murphy have two years left in his comfortable contract? 

    There's probably something else going on here. I wonder how the district's parent survey panned out?

    I sure hope D65 hires a sensible and bold superintendent who will lead by example and not kowtow to the usual failed liberal policies that have harmed the district. Start with eliminating PEG and all PEG-related school policies.

    1. PEG was not District 65

      Things were going so well with your comment…Then you blamed him for something that wasn't even in the right district (PEG), and lost all credibility by talking about "failed liberal policies."  What failed liberal policies do you speak of?  Oh wait…that was just a buzzword,.


  2. Consulting opportunities?

    Unless "consulting opportunities" is a euphamism hiding health problems, a superintendent announcing his immediate departure two weeks before the start of new school year shows an incredible lack of of respect for the community that has employed him for so long. He should have announced this months ago, so the replacement process could be well underway at this point.

  3. Not in D65

    You are misinformed. D65 did not hire PEG, that was D202. Dr. Murphy made many bad choices, but that was not one of them.

  4. Liberal?

    If by liberal, you mean fair minded, logical, progressive, and grounded in substantial educational experience and knowledge, then you are misinformed about Dr. Murphy's tenure.

    He took what had been a "lighthouse" district and burnt the bulb out. Morale suffered, staff deserted, and worst of all, he presided over a mindless adherence to the teacher accountability and testing mentality that turned D65 into a factory, rather than a standout educational institution.

    That he was able to retain his position for these many years is, I admit, a testament to the "liberal" faction in Evanston who saw him the whole time as a black man and they didn't want to upset the "black community," so they just kept his lame self in office. (The average tenure of a superintendent is about three years).

    His rhetoric regarding minority students was mainly that — rhetoric. True progressive and liberal policies would have advanced everyone's educational circumstances, especially minorities, by enriching the instruction and curriculum across the board, and trusting the teachers to create interesting and engaging classroom experiences.

    The city has, at best, been treading water for these 13 years. I don't know who would take this position, but I hope it's someone who's not afraid to do what's qualitatively educationally sound.

    1. Murphy is the status quo

      No, it is liberal policy that pushed for an untested inclusion program where all the district's special needs kids are mainstreamed into regular classrooms and that ALL the districts emotionally disturbed (E.D.) students attend the overcrowded Lincolnwood Elementary that has caused problems in the classrooms there. The district has cut the number of aides at the same time.

      Don't forget the liberal policies that created an African-Center curriculum at Oakton that by all measures is failing but no matter it will never be eliminated.

      Rather than seek bold solutions for D65 elementary students such as a foreign language currculum in which neighboring school districts have, D65 opts to water down its arts and music programs.

      Murphy wholly supported to build a new $28 million elementary school in the Fifth Ward as did other D65 school board members like Jeromre Summers and Katie Bailey and powerful politicians such as Jan Schakowsky and Robyn Gabel. The following year, the district laid off teachers.

      Hardy Murphy recently created a program that essentially waters down math in the middle schools and the primary reason was to get more minority students into advanced math classes.

      Two years ago D65 Board members Keith Terry and Jerome Summers introduced a policy proposal from PEG and it's my understanding Murphy supported it.

      I do support Murphy's stand to tighten teacher accountability standards that the Teacher's Union opposes. 

      Murphy is just another superintendent that fell in line with the generations old mantra at Evanston schools – "fill the gap." In other words, find ways to boost minority test scores to the level of white students which taken logically means that white test scores must not rise.

      You can't "fill the gap" if test scores of white students increase. Now can ya?

      This is why the state of Illinois needs a school voucher system that gives ALL parents more school choice for their kids. That will never happen in Illinois as long as liberal Democrats and Teacher Unions control the state.

      I have a hunch that D65 bureaucrats might be alarmed at the number of white students fleeing the district this school year. That might be bad news for you if you own real estate in Evanston.

    2. Hope for better now

      You said "(The average tenure of a superintendent is about three years)."


      That seems hard to believe.  Little can be accomplished in three years—far short of seeing a 'generation' [K-8] through.

      Given all the long-term [too long?] terms of many superintendents we read about, many would have to have terms of a year or less to make this 'average.'

      I hope the Board brings in a new superintendent [and principals for that matter] who don't try to fracture the school population with programs designed to play to the lowest denominator and just get miniority students ot the level 'he/she thinks they can attain to—i.e. subsistence or 'maintenance.'

  5. Aparthied Evanston

    He was forced out by a political structure that says its multicultural–but, its not.  You all are sick for even trying to fool yourself, and others, that you embrace diversity. 

    1. Dr. Murphy wasn’t forced out

      Contract law in the US is a very important foundation of our democratic society. Dr. Murphy's current contract, which is legally binding, was scheduled to end in June 2015. So how was he "forced out" ?

      Making false claims doesn't enable our community to move forward in a constructive manner.

      Evanston is diverse and it is multicultural and many people choose to live here for those reasons amongst others. However, should our community sacrifice educational excellence in order to live in such a community? Should we favor equity over excellence in our educational institutions? Can't we have both equity and excellence?

      Education is a complex and challenging endeavor in every community. In Evanston, it's more complex and challenging due to our diversity, but that also makes the process and end result more enriching and fulfilling IF and WHEN we have the right leadership in place to understand, respect, appreciate and embrace these differences.

      Education requires a commitment from the student, family and community – there are no "Magic Wands"

      I hope that D65 School Board uses this opportunity to hire an outstanding individual who has the vision and leadership to provide an outstanding educational experience for ALL students. Our community, our administrators, our teachers, our taxpayers and most importantly our students deserve it.

      Good luck to Dr. Murphy and good luck to the D65 School Board.


      1. Says who?

        Says who (that he wasn't forced out)? Do you know if we are paying him for those 2 years left in his contract? Could this be an arrangement they came to so he leaves without being fired and D65 can use the money for what really counts, like kids and teachers' professional development?  Board members would do the community a favor if they were to share–to the extent that they can, legally– how all this transpired.

        1. Clarification

          Since the comment is posted anonymously, I cannot contact the author directly.  I am disappointed with someone sharing a rumor to the effect that Dr. Murphy was escorted out of the Hill Building.  As a member of the District 65 school community, a person who was present this morning when Dr. Murphy announced his resignation to staff, and a person who worked for many years with Dr. Murphy, I assure you his announcement was professional. He recognized the leadership team and staff that he has worked with for more than a decade, wished them all well, and then politely and quietly left the building.

          1. Professional?

            Professional?  Resigning 2 weeks before school starts, without any notice so that the Board and community can organize an effective search?  Really, Ms. Markham? 

      2. Candidates from outside the district

        I do strongly urge the School Board to consider candidates from outside the district only, as the shenannigans at the admin building run deep. 

  6. More to this than consulting

    Based on my experience as a previous board member in another district and as a life-long educator, there is much more to this story than consulting. No superintendent would leave with 2 more years on a contract for consulting unless the board was making it impossible for him to perform his duties. 

    What I know of the district is that his leadership has improved student achievement for all groups, has kept them current on national and state agendas, and has led many initiatives on behalf of students. He has given extensively to the district. it is not uncommon that when school board members change, that superintendents come and go. That is most likely the case here.

    THANK YOU Dr. Murphy!!!!

    1. More to this consulting…

      If you really like Dr Murphy THAT much…you surely don't want to explore what's behind this "consulting" excuse, do you? What do you think the issue was: two weeks before school starts and without any kind of warning, this man—who so loves this District, its people and students, one who so much admires its teachers–  "decides' (or is asked???) to resign and try something new? And he–a guy prone to public tantrums if anything did not go exactly his way, or someone dared to interrupts his endless diatribes, leaves without a fight because, you know, he so loves us?! 

      Like you, I am thankful he's leaving. Not a second too soon. 

  7. Better late than NEVER – goodbye, Hardy, goodbye!

    The ongoing extensions over the years sickened and dismayed many of us. No amount of bad-timing should tarnish the FINALLY, thank the heavens, FINALLY well-done move by this new board. My public input to the process? Let's learn a lesson here, Evanston: No More Texas Imports. 

  8. African Centered Curriculum

    From reports that I've seen, the African Centered Curriculum Program in the former kindergarten wing at Oakton Elementary had numbers that did not show improvement in student achievement.

    1. ACC

      "From reports that I've seen, the African Centered Curriculum Program in the former kindergarten wing at Oakton Elementary had numbers that did not show improvement in student achievement."

      Another program that was hastily thrown together and given little to no support from Oakton's principal or the higher ups.

  9. This is welcome news

    This is welcome news.  Maybe some of the truth about Hardy Murphy will come out now that people are not afraid for their jobs. As for this being racially motivated, that simply is not true. There are many black employees, former board members and parents who were not happy with his performance. He was simply not a good leader. It's hard to imagine anyone who knows his work hiring him as a consultant. Maybe back in Texas!

  10. Thank heavens, not a moment

    Thank heavens, not a moment too soon! Now maybe the district can return to its former excellence!

  11. At least 19 comments….

    At least 19 comments….and counting.

    It looks like the issues that really get readers riled up are  :   schools,  gun control, and selling the Harley Clarke mansion.

    I propose that District 65  take over the Harley Clarke mansion and beach, and use it as a firing range.  Children could be  taught gun safety and self-defense in a multicultural context, under a contract with PEG , and Harley's house could be used as an armory.  The mansion could also  be sublet to the NRA, which would host shooting competitions and gun shows that would attract thousands of people and bring lots of revenue to the City, and the City could subsidize a wine bar on the site too.

  12. Dr. Murphy

    There have been so many parents who have opposed every decision Dr. Murphy has made. Especially those decisions that allowed more academic opportunities for all and not a select demographic of students in District 65 (as the opposing parents wanted). I applaud Dr. Murphy for standing up to the opposition in the name of justice and equal academic opportunities for all. And for all you nay sayers: Jeeez! Don't you think you criticized him enough already? Thought to consider: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Thank you Dr. Murphy!

    1. Dr. Murphy

      I'm with you.  He worked hard for us, delivered growth in student achievement on accepted measures and balanced the budget.  Everything that superintendents are supposed to do.

      Given the vitriol here, who would ever want to be the District 65 superintendent?

      It sounds like you want a puppet.

      1. Puppet/Windsock combo

        To the writer who commented "He worked hard for us, delivered growth in student achievement on accepted measures",

        Are you aware that the most recent assesments of student progress amongst ACC students show that the students in that program (Afro-Centric Curriculum) did worse than the African American students enrolled in regular classrooms? I am not sure who "us" is in the context of your message….but "us" is definitely not the children of Evanston, and especially not the African American children who Dr. Murphy claimed to try to benefit ,  program that Dr. Murphy initially opposed but then supported for political gain. A program that continues to run even when we know it is NOT closing the gap. Talk about puppet!

  13. Tracy Quattrocki was behind it, that’s for sure

    Dr, Murphy is  highly intelligent, an  innovated thinker, and attractive (just like the president). The problem they both have is that they are black.  It's very hard for either one of them  to get anything done because they are both being undermined by  bigotry. The sole purpose for the new board members were to remove Dr. Murphy.  He was a great superintendent. Thank you for your restraint and class. To be honest,  You were too good for this district. You will do well. The next time, find a district that honestly wants to educate all students, not just their own.  

    1. Race is not the issue

      Perhaps you are unware that over 75 percent of the vote Evanston was for Barak Obama. I don't think this is a community that has a problem with the race of the superintendent. Perhaps you've forgotten that it was the white board members of D202 who wanted to hire the black female superintendent.

      This is about a superintendent who polarized the community at every turn. Who pitted black against white (your comments are indicative of this); parent against teacher; teacher against administration.

      He had a "if you are not with us you are against us" attitude that was not conducive to collaboration and consistently alienated parents and staff. He surrounded himself with a staff of yes-people and anyone who did not want to go along with his program was shown the door (or left in disgust).

      Please, let's not once again start blaming race without taking a hard look at the reality of the situation.

    2. Obama and Murphy — not a chance

      Obama is a thoughtful man trying to work with people and make the right decisions for all the people in the country.

      Murphy was arrogant, brought in puppets and never tried to reach out to the community. Certainly Murphy did some good things for the district and at some level did care about the children, but he also was divisive and achievement (especially with minority students) stalled.

      The idea that race played a factor is ridiculous. It's time for a fresh start in D65 and the focus should be on student achievement for all students. In the end Murphy caused his own demise (and remember  he resigned, he was not fired) and its time to move on and get a quality person in the position.

    3. Dr Murphy was arrogant

      Dr Murphy was arrogant and only interested in test scores. Ask anyone who worked for him. He rarely visited schools, unless it was for a photo shot and he never cared to listen to teachers. He was untouchable and divisive. He was smart and savvy and a great charmer when he needed to be. Most teachers and staff are happy he left.

      Lets find someone who has spent time in a classroom as a teacher and has been a principal and a central office figure. We need someone who understands every aspect of education who really puts kids first who is NOT a politician. Someone approachable , kind and REAL!! I commend  the board for finally seeing the light and ending his contract early. And don't worry, Dr Murphy did not leave empty handed. He planned this out. He knew that once this new board came in, it was over. None of us will ever know what was said behind closed doors and so we must now simply look forward, not back. 

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