District 65 offices at the JEH Education Center.

Additional invoices obtained by Evanston Now show that the cost of armed, round-the-clock, seven-day-a-week security for District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton has been more than $475,000 since last summer.

And the total will top half-a-million dollars for a 12-month period, if the final month of the security contract, this June, sees bodyguards provided every day, as has been the case for most prior months. The typical monthly invoice has been in the range of $47,000 – $48,000, depending on the number of days in the month.

District 65 contracts with a private security company for the superintendent’s protection.

Horton has reported threats, and at a May 23 Board of Education meeting, stated publicly that “I sit here with armed security 24 hours a day.”

There was no public mention, however, of the cost. So Evanston Now filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The invoices received added up to $356,395 since July, 2021 when the agreement for armed security took effect.

However, invoices for two full months and two partial months were not included in the response, so we then asked for, and received, those documents, which total $120,362.

(For some reason, bodyguard services were not provided to the superintendent from November 1-7, 2021. The district’s latest FOIA response notes that, but does not say why the protection was not used during those dates).

Adding everything together, the cost from late July, when the first security detail started, until the end of May, 2022 is $476,757, with this June yet to come.

District 65 is paying $65 per hour for the superintendent’s armed guards, according to documents received from the school system. For holidays, the hourly rate goes to time-and-a-half.

It’s unclear if the personal bodyguard protection will be extended past June 30.

District 65 had a previously existing contract with Skokie-based Phoenix Security for things such as unarmed security at board meetings, and checking buildings during weekends for vandalism or mechanical problems. That contract was amended as of July 1 last year to add “executive protection” through June 30, 2022.

That contract also states that “The term of this agreement shall be from the Effective Date until June 30, 2022, and may be renewed by mutual written agreement of the parties.”

In our most recent FOIA request, Evanston Now asked for “Any internal District 65 communications/documents regarding the possibility of extending the current Phoenix Security contract amendment past its expiration date of June 30, 2022, or developing a new contract for such services. This would include any draft contracts, extensions, or amendments which have been drawn up.”

The district’s answer, dated June 22, was “There are no records responsive to this request.”

Related stories

Horton security costs D65 nearly $50,000 a month (6/6/22)

Horton says he has armed security guards (5/24/22)

D65 leaders say they’ve received death threats (1/14/21)

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

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7 Comments

  1. All on some trumped up nonsense.

    Wait until the referendum comes.

    Keep in mind the school board spends more time on the land use acknowledgment than debating any issues they vote on. The actual meetings outside of virtue signaling and posturing is a consent agenda on literally everything father wants. Including armed 24/7 security so his feelings are protected. Is there one single other non elected official in the entire state that has personal security paid for by the taxpayer?

    I once thought Evanston would become Cicero on the Lake but maybe we are becoming North Korea! Don’t question dear leader or you get put in the bad place. Next we will hear how he shot an 18 the only time he ever golfed.

  2. That’s a lot! We have funds for this, but we can’t update school bathrooms for students and teachers? Apples and oranges, I know, but if you haven’t seen teacher and student bathrooms in D65 schools, you should. They are disgusting and in most schools, they are the only place new mothers (back to work) can pump for their newborns. They cannot pump in their classrooms because almost all classrooms are shared, so privacy is impossible. Student bathrooms are just as bad in most schools.

    1. Interesting so it’s not just our school. My 6 year old has told me on a few occasions about finding roaches in the bathroom at Oakton.

  3. In this day and age, threats to elected officials, senior officials, and leaders in general are not uncommon. Just listen to the January 6th Congressional hearings. Standard protocol is for the police to be notified and to conduct a threat assessment. Did this occur in Horton’s case? If so, did EPD determine the emails and voicemails to be a credible threat? If so, did EPD refuse to provide protection or tell the Superintendent and School Board to get their own protection? If the threat assessment was not found to be credible, why did the Board move forward with 24 hour a day, 365 day a year executive protection? Additionally, if it was initially determined that there was a credible security threat to the Superintendent, have they periodically updated that assessment to determine if the threat still exists?

    Sadly, we are living in a time when any wingnut anywhere in the world can send an email or leave a voicemail threatening anyone. Violent speech is on the rise and it’s undoubtedly scary when you are on the receiving end of these threats. Still, there must be a process to decipher whether those threats are local, real, and the target and his or her family is in imminent danger. Without that type of assessment we would need to provide secret service type protection to practically every senior government official these days, including those in public health, education, and elections.

  4. Fire this person now. Time for a reset before a critical mass of parents take students out of Evanston for good. The supposed desirable school, orrington, has lead paint peeling off the interior and exterior walls. This money could’ve been used to repaint for kids safety among other things. Drive by, take a look inside orrington and see. This man has been a failure.

  5. Horton is the definition of toxic. Please show up to the next Board elections and back any sane Evanstonian that runs against Horton’s enablers. The problem lies with both the Board and Horton. Both need to go.

  6. There is another angle to this that should be investigated. Was there a provision in the original security contact to provide 24/7 armed bodyguard protection at agreed upon rates? I doubt it. Was it added later? If so, were these rates competitive? To me this looks like a no bid deal. If this was done in a proper way why did FOIA have to be used? I can’t find it in the “contacts >25 K “ list for the past year.

    How will the $40 million of contacts for the new school be awarded. The “Bid Opportunities” lists nothing yet D65 leadership says this in process.

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