The Evanston School District 65 School Board tonight appointed Devon Horton as superintendent effective July 1.

Horton is now chief of schools, one of several assistant-superintendent-level positions, in the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky.

Board President Sunith Kartha said Horton will bring to District 65 “a wealth of experience in education.”

“His values, experience, and vision are perfectly aligned to continue and expand on District 65’s priorities,” Kartha added. “This includes racial and educational equity as well as our focus on teaching and learning in our classrooms and ensuring our schools are intellectually and socially safe for learning through restorative practices.”

Horton began his career in the Chicago Public Schools, where he was a middle school teacher for 10 years starting in 2000 and spent another four years as a principal.

He transitioned into a central office role in 2014 in East St. Louis, where he served as assistant superintendent and then deputy superintendent of achievement and administration, before heading to Louisville in 2018.

Horton received a doctorate in educational leadership from Chicago State University last December and also holds a master’s degree in the same specialty from Chicago State. His bachelor’s degree in elementary education is from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Horton has been actively seeking a new position and was recently a finalist for superintendent jobs in Indianapolis, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Rochester, New York.

A statement from the district says Horton’s philosophy centers on educational equity as the lever to better student outcomes. It discribes his accomplishments as including:

  • implementing a district-wide racial equity policy, including prioritizing restorative practices and setting and monitoring equity-based goals to measure school improvement
  • spearheading work on teacher development and retention, creating systems that work with local universities to create a pipeline of diverse teachers that demonstrate culturally responsive practices
  • establishing a district-wide dashboard to make student data more relevant, transparent, and actionable for all stakeholders
  • creating regular systems of two-way communication to maximize collaboration with multiple stakeholder groups

The district says Horton’s work has led to demonstrable increases in MAP scores as well as reductions in suspensions, particularly for students of color.

“District 65 has made historic commitments to not only bring awareness to the inequities that our society has created, but also plans to take action,” Horton said.

“Over the last couple of years, my role has been to build systems and monitor the implementation of racial equity work, high quality instruction, and leadership development. These priorities have yielded positive outcomes and results for all students.”

“I have always believed that students do not fail, the social structures that we as adults create, fail our students,” said Horton. “I am humbled and ready to join the Evanston/Skokie family on the journey to becoming a national model district!”

Kartha expressed thanks to the more than 1,000 community members who commented on the selection process. Their “perspectives and insights strongly informed our selection of Dr. Horton,” Kartha added.

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  1. Let’s Hope The Closed Door Candidate is Decent

    This guy’s record seems pretty slim.

    Four years as an assistant superintendent at a district 3/4 the size of Evanston and a little more than a year as an assistant in Louisville.

    In Louisville, according to WDRB, math and reading scores dropped last year in Jefferson County while remaining steady throughout the state of Kentucky.

    What were the other candidates’ credentials?? We don’t know because the Board kept them secret! The whole hiring process was so horribly managed and done without even minimal levels of public transparency.

    Horton was the only candidate the Board brought in as a finalist and there were no public forums to meet the candidate.

    Compare this to the last search where five finalists were announced to the public, brought in, and public forums were held for each to answer questions. In that search we had multiple candidates with Superintendent experience and wound up hiring someone with a Doctorate from Stanford and decades of experience in administration and education policy.

    The only thing we know about Horton is that he was vetted by four different districts PUBLICLY and didn’t make the grade. In fact in Grand Rapids the school board decided to do-over the search.

    One of the reasons (mentioned in the article linked above) was that Horton didn’t show much “expertise and to some extent much curiosity” in addressing Spanish language learners and special education.

    In a city where nearly a quarter of the households speak a foreign language, this is troubling. How did Grand Rapids come to that conclusion? They had public forums with multiple candidates where the community could assess and weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

    In Evanston we did not have that opportunity. A total disservice by the District 65 board.

    1. And that’s why “School Board’s Matter”

      The leadership or lackthereof by D65 School Board President, Suni Kartha, is demonstrated yet again.

      I hope Dr. Horton is a terrific leader and wish him much success.

      But the opaque process and lack of transparency will make his job a little more difficult.

      And it didn’t need to be this way.

    2. Indy, Grand Rapids and

      Indy, Grand Rapids and Rochester are all a lot bigger than Evanston, so I’m not concerned that he didn’t get those jobs.  And I hardly think his 1 year in Louisville was make or break for anything.  4 years in E. St. Louis is the relevant position.  I would have liked to hear what happened in E. St. Louis in those years, whether teachers respected him.  Looking around, I do see a Belleville News Democrat article saying math scores were up and the drop-out rate down in that time period, but those seemed like cherry-picked stats and the improvement was minimal on a very low baseline.  Hard to know what to make of it.

      1. Welcome, and we’re here to work for you!

        Congratulations Dr. Hoton. I am going to go out on a limb – and say I just got a feeling: You got this! We are here for you and to work for you and not against you. I’m so happy you are here working for all kids in our District. You have your work cut out but I know you are the right person for the job. I can feel it in my bones.

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