The District 97 school board selected Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA), an executive search firm in northwest suburban Schaumburg, to conduct a national search for the district’s next superintendent, according to a news release issued July 28 by the district.

In a 5-0 vote, board members moved to hire HYA during a special meeting held July 21. Board President Jung Kim was absent from the meeting, and board Vice President Jeremy Duffy abstained from voting. Duffy did not attend the July 13 meeting where HYA and two other firms, BWP & Associates and School Exec Connect, hosted presentations on their services.  

HYA has had more than 30 years of experience in leading executive searches and education consulting, the release stated. A representative of HYA, Constance Collins, is an Oak Park resident and former D97 superintendent. This January, the firm was hired by Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 to facilitate its superintendent search.

According to the release, the board said the following on hiring HYA: “The board ultimately selected HYA because of its commitment to equity and robust community engagement, its excellent record for successful superintendent placements, its national reach and its strong track record of recruiting diverse candidates with demonstrable accomplishments on educational equity.”

Kim could not be immediately reached for additional comment.

During the July 13 meeting, Collins and HYA President Glenn “Max” McGee appeared in front of the board to talk about what their firm could offer, walking members through the process to find the next superintendent.

Collins and McGee spoke about their commitment to bringing in diverse candidates, a mission that aligns with the district, and partnerships with organizations, including the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) and the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). Collins said she is currently an active member of NABSE.

Collins also shared with the board its “signature approach,” a four-phase search process that would begin with engagement. The first step is dedicated to developing the application for the position and creating a timeline for the hiring process. The firm also looks to piece together its engagement process, which aims to build focus groups, forums and surveys so that families, faculty and other community stakeholders can be part of the conversation. 

The other steps – recruiting applicants, selecting a candidate and transitioning that candidate into the role – come after. According to HYA’s presentation, the first three phases could take roughly a month or so to complete. The transition phase, the final step of the process, could take about a day or two and centers on outlining goals and a 100-day plan for the incoming permanent superintendent. Other optional services for the late phase include leadership coaching, superintendent evaluation or strategic planning, Collins said.

“These days overlap,” McGee told board members at the meeting. “As soon as a letter of agreement is signed, we begin recruiting candidates right away.”

In the coming days, District 97 board members plan to work with HYA to establish a timeline for the search, put up a job post and work on the community engagement process, the release stated.

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