Denise Matthews, earlier in her career a special education teacher and assistant principal in Oak Park, has been named special education director for the River Forest District 90 schools. The elementary school board approved her hiring at a school board meeting Feb. 19. Matthews will start July 1 and succeeds longtime Director Karen Boozell, who is retiring.

“There were several reasons behind Denise’s selection including her deep knowledge of federal and state regulations regarding special education compliance matters and experience implementing special education programs,” Supt. Ed Condon said in a statement. “Her extensive experiences with student services, school administration, along with her commitment to professional growth for faculty and facilitating a collaborative work environment made her stand out among other candidates.”

Matthews has signed a two-year contract with an annual salary of $127,816. She currently serves as Assistant Director of Specialized Student Services for Compliance for northwest Elgin Area District U-46 schools, where her responsibilities include planning, directing and ensuring compliance with state and federal special education programs, according to her LinkedIn.

Previously, Matthews served as an assistant principal at Westmont High School in southwest suburban Westmont, and assistant principal at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park. The Supported Education Association of Oak Park-River Forest has twice named her Special Education Teacher of the Year.

Matthews holds two masters’ degrees from DePaul University, one in Educational Leadership and Administration and the other in Language, Literacy, and Specialized Instruction. She received her bachelor’s from the University of Belize in Belize City, Belize.

“I am very excited about joining District 90 and the opportunity to work with such a well-respected school district,” Matthews said in a statement. “There is such a strong fit between District 90 and my personal philosophy about student learning and achievement, professional development, and collaborative professional relationships that I look forward to working together with faculty and parents to meet our student’s needs.”


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