Shyla Kinhal is the newest member of the Oak Park District 97 School Board. Credit: District 97

Shyla Kinhal, a former public school teacher and current early childhood literacy leader for the KIPP charter schools, has been named the newest member of the Oak Park District 97 School Board. Kinhal, who was appointed by the board and officially sworn in Sept. 28 during a regular board meeting, fills a vacancy left by Jeremy Duffy’s resignation in August.

“The board was fortunate to have several diverse and highly-qualified candidates apply for the vacancy,” Jung Kim, board president, said in an emailed announcement sent to district families and staff following the meeting. “In the end, we concluded that Shyla’s extensive knowledge  and experience in education made her the ideal candidate for the position. She is an  excellent complement to our current board, and we are excited to continue working together to move the district’s priorities forward.”

Kinhal was one of six candidates who applied for the open seat. One candidate withdrew his application before interviews were held, said Amanda Siegfried, District 97 communications director.

On Sept. 27, the board held a special meeting and invited Kinhal and four other candidates for an interview. In an hour-and-a-half session, the board asked candidates to discuss the district’s biggest challenges and areas in need of improvement, analyze the district’s current equity policies and share why they wanted to be a board member.

Kinhal is the senior manager of early childhood and elementary literacy at the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Foundation, one of the country’s largest public charter schools. Kinhal brings 15 years of experience in education, eight of which were spent teaching in New York City public schools.

Apart from her career, Kinhal serves on the Parent Advisory Council of the Day Nursery in Oak Park. She is also a mother of two young girls, and her family has lived in the community for two years.

“I am proud to be part of the Oak Park community and to have the opportunity to serve and support one of its most vital institutions,” Kinhal said in the emailed statement. “District 97 is facing a number of challenges and important decisions, including the ongoing pandemic and the search for the next superintendent. I am looking forward to working with my fellow board members, the administration, and our entire district community to tackle these important issues and achieve our ultimate goal of creating safe and equitable learning environments for all students.”

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