Devon Horton.

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.

Andalib Khelghati

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.

Consultant’s proposal for Oswego school district included Devon Horton as working for School Exec Connect.

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.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. Seems like a conflict of interest to me. Anyone that thinks Horton cared about anything but money in his time at D65 is nuts.

    All these consultant fees and search firms that the city and both districts in this town spend money on is out of control. Any project or initiative has a huge consulting fee attached to it. Why are we paying all these officials to make decisions when they just give money to their friends to do the work for them at our expense?

  2. How do private schools manage to provide a very good education for their students? Some in fact become blue ribbon schools. They don’t have superintendents and a very large cohort of administrators. As a school social worker in public school systems I know what are the jobs of superintendents ,various administrators and their assistants The jobs are to develop various programs worded with pc jargon then collect data. Next they present the data at meetings of each other. At the same time they search the various web sites for new job opportunities. They make sure their resume has the new programs they have developed. And lastly they never ever interact with a student or a teacher. And the cycle continues. All the administrators will sing the praises of the next one who moves up to a higher paid position. Sigh

  3. At least Horton is gone. Let’s see if the D65 Board does anything to improve the situation. I would seem that a highly paid superintendent isn’t the answer to D65 problems.

  4. 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.”
    The problem is not one contract or one unethic dealing – it’s the fact that Horton had his hands in MANY side gigs. He was actively being paid by several districts as a consultant including CPS. So, the problem is that when you add it all up in terms of dollars and hours not to mention that all of it seems to have some connection to someone in D65, it makes you wonder how he actually did his job here. Oh that’s right, the board didn’t care about him actually doing education work. Go figure.

  5. The guy has consistently been devouring resources and misdirecting funds and educators away from our children and a large portion of the community applauds him for it. It’s sick and consider it a win for equity. Well we are all getting the same poor quality education system that rivals CPS now so I suppose equity has won….

  6. Mr. Horton should not have been engaged contrary to the contract terms in ANY such activity, based on this article. I would like to see specifically how the board was aware of his activities and their approval of same.

    If this information cannot be provided then, he breached his contract and the D65 board should begin clawing back money paid to Superintendent Horton while he was employed as a school district employee and as a paid consultant. Either his salary for that time or his search fees should be forfeit.

    I for one am sick and tired of people doing such double-dipping when specifically prohibited from doing so.

    1. The newest president whose approval he needed just became president like a few months ago and I think there were at least two other presidents during his time so did he have both of their approvals?

      1. At least one of them per search engagement makes sense. It would be akin to asking your employer if it’s OK to spend time working another part-time job. If he asks ten times, for instance, the board would have an indication of where he is spending his time, which is reasonable. I would most certainly not be in favor of a blanket approval which just invites problems.

        The District should have to review and approve each such engagement as it could degrade the quality of his leadership and, in this case, directly cause the School District a senior loss for siphoning of existing staff to other school districts. In this case, there is a real cost to the District.

  7. Good riddance to both of these losers. This type of borderline ethical business dealings typically catches up with the schemers. It is sad that we are left to deal with Hortons aftermath at district 65.

  8. There are so many problems with this. The least important was working as a search consultant while superintendent. As the article notes, for unknown reasons the D65 board gave Horton wide latitude to do whatever he wanted on the side. Just add this to the list. The bigger issue is that he placed an employee from his own district in the position! This was a conflict of interest and likely violated both his fiduciary duty as superintendent and his duty of loyalty as an employee of the district. How is it possible that D65 sees this as OK? So a superintendent can identify the best staff and teachers in the district and then get paid to help other districts hire them? That is insane and it is shocking that the D65 board is not united in condemning this activity.

    1. Then we shouldn’t be surprised when other administrators jump ship and wind up on the DeKalb district payroll. After all most of his previous district’s buddies migrated to District 65 during his tenure.

    2. One of the reasons the board thinks it is OK is because the Board is populated by education consultants. They all inhabit this same world. Board President Hernandez, Halipern, Lindsay-Ryan are all education consultants and work regularly with school boards. Anya Tanyavutti, who was on the board that hired Horton, was also an educational consultant.

      Remember how the search went down–it was conducted entirely behind closed doors and Horton’s name wasn’t announced until the contract was signed and it was a done deal.

      I remember when his name was announced I thought it sounded familiar and when I googled him, I came across the article saying he owed tens of thousands of dollars to the City of Chicago for fines stemming from his real estate business.

      His hiring was a classic example of group-think. Without a diversity of voices–and public involvement–this is what you get.

      Unfortunately, the voters in Evanston don’t seem to care as the last election shows.

      I do not feel optimistic for the current search. Hernandez and his allies should feel emboldened to do another closed search without public scrutiny. Expect Horton 2.0

      1. Thank you Rose You truly understand what’s going on and on and on

      2. *the ELIGIBLE voters of Evanston (mostly) don’t seem to care. Wasn’t turnout this spring something like 15%? Obviously when there’s not a competitive primary or general election, you don’t get as good of a turnout, but if people were really riled up beyond a semi-active comment section, why not vote for change?

  9. Interesting it took till he left before people really began to complain—-he never even should’ve been hired—-yet in March of 2022 he was given a three year contact extension by D65 school board and salary increase from $250,000 a year to $262,000—-he should’ve been fired for multiple reasons besides working outside of his D65 superintendent position—-Evanston voters need to pay more attention to who they elect to school boards—-were extremely lucky the Atlanta school district relieved us from this greedy ineffective grifter

    1. John, people were complaining about him for various reasons for nearly his entire tenure as superintendent…this is not new, nor is publishing a story about something that seems like a conflict of interest when he’s on the way out. The answer isn’t suing him to claw back some of the money. It’s moving on and, if anything, finding a way to get the board that is supposed to represent the district’s interests to tighten things up on the next contract if it’s a perceived distraction. Not holding my breath…

      This won’t change until we have a larger slate of decent, non-incumbent candidates, and more people show up to the polls.

  10. On the bright side, maybe they install someone else in Khelgati’s spot and trim one spot off the bloated administration overall…

    1. The D65 HR department is become an absolute joke under Khelghati’s tenure. Need an email responded to? Need to reach someone on the phone? Need a job reference or verification fo employment? Good luck! I feel bad for the poor students and people of Oswego, but at least he’s not evanston’s problem anymore. I’m not optimistic but hopefully whoever replaces him can bring a new sense of legitimacy and responsiveness to what staff need from an HR department.

  11. It’s too bad that this mess is reflecting on Dr. Khelghati, who had been with the District since 2006 as the Principal of Dewey School for six years (and Assistant Principal for the preceding five years) before becoming the Assistant Superintendent of Schools and then the Interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, all long-established and necessary roles for the basic functioning of the school district. Instead, there should be questions about recently created, highly paid administrative positions with such job titles as “Special Assistant to the Cabinet,” “Diverse Learning Coordinator,” “Assistant Director of Teaching & Learning,” and “Deputy Superintendent.”

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