The District 97 school board is expected tonight to appoint Constance Collins, the current superintendent of Zion, as the next leader of Oak Park’s elementary schools.

School officials in a press release touted candidate Collins’ experience working with diverse student bodies. If appointed, Collins would be District 97’s first African-American superintendent. She also would be the first woman to hold the post, which will be vacated by retiring Superintendent John Fagan. Fagan has served with the district for 17 years.

“[Collins’] qualifications and references are impeccable and we have no doubt that she understands and embraces the values of our schools and community,” Board President Ade Onayemi said in the press statement. “We feel very fortunate that our paths have crossed and are confident that she will provide excellent leadership as we face the challenges and celebrate the successes before us.”

Collins is expected to “work closely” with Fagan until his retirement this July, and will be involved in hiring key staff members and drafting the budget, according to the statement.

Prior to joining Zion schools, where she has served for three years, Collins was assistant superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools, and a teacher, principal and director of special education in the Kentwood Public Schools in Michigan.

She has also taught at the university level and worked as a speech-language pathologist.

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