Before accepting a superintendent’s position in Georgia, District 65 superintendent Devon Horton worked simultaneously with a consulting business which ended up placing a top D65 assistant at a different Illinois position.
Horton was being paid $262,500 by District 65 at the time.
Oswego District 308, a 17,000-student district in Kane, Kendall and Will Counties, announced earlier this month that it was hiring District 65 Assistant Superintendent Andalib Khelghati as superintendent, effective July 1.
District 308 documents, as well as audio recordings of school board meetings, indicate that Horton was with a consulting firm called School Exec Connect when he spoke to the Oswego Board of Education regarding their superintendent search.
The letter of agreement between Exec Connect and District 308, signed February 21, 2023, says “Dr. Kevin O’Meara and Dr. Devon Horton will represent SCHOOL EXEC CONNECT, INC. for the Community Unit School District 308 superintendent search.”
O’Meara (the company’s founder) and Horton spoke in person to the board on Feb. 1, pitching Exec Connect as the search firm to hire over two others, which did happen.
Meeting audio from that day shows Horton said he had been “working with the search firm for three years now,” and had already been involved in two or three searches.
On May 8, Horton was back to present search parameters.
Khelghati, who worked for and with Horton at District 65 for three years, became the candidate hired by Oswego on June 14. (Khelghati was with District 65 in several positions since 2011, well before Horton came on board in 2020).
According to radio station WSPY-FM, which serves the Oswego school area, the search firm came up with 26 potential superintendent candidates in a nationwide effort. The number was later winnowed down to three finalists, with Khelghati getting the nod.
It is apparently not unusual for superintendents like Horton to also take part in searches for leaders of other districts.
O’Meara told the Oswego board at one of the meetings that his firm has about 70 consultants in the United States, and “about one-third of our associates are active superintendents.”
Horton’s most recent D65 contract states that the superintendent “shall confine professional and employment activities to the business of the school district,” however, there is also language allowing outside activities if “approved by the board.”
“The Board president,” the contract continues, “shall be notified of the nature of the outside activities, which shall not interfere with performance of the Superintendent’s duties.”
In response to a question from Evanston Now, D65 spokesperson Hannah Hoffmeister said “As permissible in the contract … Superintendent Horton was allowed to engage in outside professional activities. The Board was aware of Dr. Horton’s consulting work and did not believe it interfered with the performance of his duties as superintendent.”
We also reached out to Horton, but have not received a response.
It’s unclear how much Horton may have made from the recent Oswego work, but it could not have been too much.
The Oswego-Exec Connect Contract was for $21,800, plus a small amount for expenses such as travel and setting up focus groups.
“We don’t do this,” O’Meara told the Oswego board, “to make a lot of money.”
Horton will make a lot of money in his new job as superintendent of DeKalb County, Georgia, schools .. $325,000 per year, starting July 1.
The District 65 board named another assistant superintendent, Angel Turner, to serve as interim superintendent here until Horton’s replacement is found.
And to find that replacement, District 65 plans to hire … a search firm.