Devon Horton.

District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton has been given a top honor which is named for one of his predecessors.

Horton was just chosen as the “Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year” by the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE).

Hill, who died in 1998, was the first Black superintendent of the Evanston/Skokie School District. The district’s office building/early childhood center carries Hill’s name.

Hill was also one of the founders of NABSE.

Horton became superintendent in 2020, right after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NABSE says the Hill award is given to superintendents who have “demonstrated a quality of leadership that resulted in significant positive outcomes for students of African descent.”

In announcing the award, District 65 cites the decision to build a new school in the historically Black 5th Ward, the district’s teacher residency training program and the academic skills centers tutoring program as among Horton’s achievements.

In the District’s statement, Horton says he is humbled by the honor, and accepts it on behalf of the school system’s staff, students, families, and board members.

“‘The sky is the limit and we are only getting started,'” he adds.

Horton’s tenure has not been without flare-ups. Budget cuts, labor relations (which now seem to be improving), some curriculum content and a private security guard contract have all generated controversy.

The award will be presented at NABSE’s 50th anniversary convention, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 in National Harbor, Maryland.

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. More self-promotion. More nonsense. Complete disregard for facts. The only group underperforming compared to the state? District 65 African American kids

  2. He has the dream team for PR. the only group demographically that is underperforming compared to the state, based on the newest report card, are black students. Literally every, single other group is out pacing the state. The district is on a path of financial ruin. The morale at the schools is in the basement. The flight from the district is extremely high due to the dysfunction under his watch. The entire mission statement of the district should be changed to performing PR duties for the superintendent, so he can take his private consulting firm nationally. When asked he takes zero responsibility for what has happened under his watch.

    Enjoy it tax payers of Evanston, that’s what we are paying for. Cheers.

  3. What positive outcomes has Horton come up with for Students of African descent? Of Hispanic descent? Of any descent?

    This is a man who has led the charge in dumbing down curricula and ripping away advanced programs, which may make some kids feel better in the short term but damages their preparedness for high school and college in the long term.

    This is a man who’s profited off of his side-hustles, as has our board, as “equity consultants” and experts, making money off of their positions.

    This is a man who only mentions white students when it is in conjunction with “supremacy” or “privilege”; rather than focus on socioeconomic needs, he’s created racial disharmony to hide the fact that he’s done nothing of real value for any of the students in his district.

    This is a man who has worked hard to self-promote and self-aggrandize while his district has descended from one of the best in the state to one in crisis.

    This is a man who demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in private security while laying off reading specialists.

    This is a man who, in conjunction with the board, forced through plans for a school that no one wants with a dubious financing scheme while ignoring hundreds of millions of dollars in capital maintenance.

    This is a man who has lashed out at teachers, parents, students, and anyone else who disagrees with his disastrous policies.

    This is a man who claims accolades for himself and refuses to accept any sort of accountability or responsibility (who does that remind you of?), instead choosing to pass the buck on blame to anyone but himself.

    What has he done for these kids? Words. Smoke and mirrors hiding the devastating harm he’s done to students from all backgrounds.

    I’d like to recommend him for the Roy Dillon award, for best grifting of the rubes of Evanston.

    He is a grifter, plain and simple, and he’s made himself a nice little fiefdom in a place where he feels safe.

    Vote out all of the sitting board members in 2024 and get him out of here. It’s too late for so many of our children, but we can hopefully start to rebuild and heal if we get them all out and start fresh from a rational perspective.

  4. Congrats! The half-million dollar security detail paid off! Hopefully this will draw some more clients to his consultancy!

  5. Wait…who nominated Horton for this award? Himself, the board? Love how he says that he is humbled by the honor, and accepts it on behalf of the school system’s staff, students, families, and board members. Who are these people you speak of? LMAO

  6. What a clown, but let’s not just focus on him. Everyone on this board should be ashamed of themselves. What a disgrace.

  7. The above comments are, IMO, accurate. We need to remember them next spring when board elections finally arrive.

  8. Lots of award winners! One no one wants pay attention to: the Salesman of the Year at Phoenix Security who got a suburbsn school district to part with nearly $500K for 24 hour armed security for the superintendent over a couple of emails that the Police Department deemed nonthreatening.

    In the meantime, the District is down over 1000 students whose parents are voting with their feet by taking their kids out of our schools rather than put their kids through what this man and the Board are selling.

    Congrsts Dr. Horton! Another award will sound great when you are selling more consulting services.

  9. So under his administration he is changing standards for student achievement because they aren’t achieving, won’t repair crumbling schools after hiring a consulting firm to recommend maintenance and upgrades to existing buildings, wants to build a campus for $40 million that will be twice that due to inflation, is asking for the maximum cap of 5% of property tax allocation (explain how that makes living here affordable), is creating a toxic work environment for teachers, staff and thus students to learn in yet wins yet another award? I hope that there are candidates to vote out the current board that has been there far too long with schools only getting worse. Where is the focus on education? Students? This district has lost its way. It’s time to vote out this Board and start holding the administration accountable. If people are considering running, please reach out. It will be the only way to stop the insanity.

  10. Horton and this board have definitely turned District 65 around…in the wrong direction. They have turned it from a place where teachers were proud to work and where parents sought to enroll their kids to a toxic, dysfunctional mess. I am absolutely gobsmacked that anyone would want to reward him for anything. The people in our district who deserve an award are our dedicated teachers, who have rolled with the nonsense (those who are still in the district, anyway) and continue to give their best to the kids every day, even to the detriment of their mental health. The district is toxic. Nothing commendable about that.

  11. Wow. This is what happens when you don’t question authority. Congratulations, woke Evanston residents! You did it! You successfully protected this man as he ruined District 65!

  12. Another award on his resume will certainly help him sell more consulting services. And if D65 is lucky, maybe land a new job too …

  13. Classic log rolling. Supporters of Horton nominate him, aggressive PR helps persuade nomination committee who clearly didn’t do any real research into Horton’s record, and now yay, another empty accolade to add to his resume when he leaves Evanston. Shame on the board, vote those who continue to support him and voted to renew his contract OUT at the next school board election. First and foremost Biz. That woman needs to be gone, pronto.

  14. Wake me up when he wins an ASCD award, or when black students are not doing worse under his leadership.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *