The superintendent of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 told a Board of Education meeting Monday night “I sit here with armed security 24 hours a day.”
Horton, who has been the target of racist hate mail and phone calls since taking office two years ago, said he has armed protection “because of our effort to fight” for racial equity in the district.
The superintendent’s comments came as the board and two dozen speakers condemned a recent incident where three nooses were hung between Haven and Kingsley schools. Board and community members also said there is far too much ugly bigotry in a city that considers itself progressive.
Horton also defended the district’s involuntary teacher transfers, which he said were necessary to prevent layoffs.
Those transfers led to a student sit-down protest at Haven, as well as criticism from some teachers and Haven parents that union activists were targeted for the job shifts, along with other educators who spoke out about discipline problems.
More than 100 parents and teachers brought their criticism to a board meeting last month.
On Monday night, Horton told a similar-sized but supportive crowd that “some adult reactions” to the teacher transfer controversy “were unacceptable and outright racist.”
Last summer, Horton reported receiving two voice mails containing racial slurs and threats of bodily harm and said his car window had been broken in an act of vandalism.
Earlier in his tenure, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Horton, board members, and other district officials received several racist and hostile emails and letters.
No one was ever arrested in connection with any of those incidents.
Horton told the board meeting that the May 13 hanging of the nooses is being actively investigated, and while nothing can be said now, “We’re not sitting back. It will be addressed.”
There was no discussion or information revealed at the board meeting about how long the superintendent has had a security detail, how much it costs taxpayers (assuming the district is paying), or what organization is providing the guards.