After 13 years as superintendent of schools in District 65, Hardy Murphy announced Monday that he would resign to pursue consulting opportunities.
Murphy’s resignation went into effect three days ago on Friday, Aug. 9, according to a press release from the district. The school board has already begun searching for an interim superintendent to replace Murphy, and will begin the process of hiring a full-time replacement in fall 2014.
“The board would like to thank Dr. Murphy for his 13 years of distinguished service,” board president Tracy Quattrocki said in a statement. “We wish him well in future endeavors.”
Quattrocki said that the beginning of the academic year “is a difficult time of year for a major transition,” but added, “we believe the timing is best for Dr. Murphy given the opportunities he is considering.”
Speaking to staff members at a meeting Monday morning, Murphy said, "the board and I agreed this is the right time for me to leave," according to District 65 spokesperson Pat Markham.
In a prepared statement, he said the decision to leave would allow him to continue making a professional contribution to education while spending more time with his family. He also acknowledged changes coming for the district.
"The board is at the beginning stages for developing a new strategic plan," Murphy said in the statement.
Patch left a message seeking further comment at Murphy's home on Monday morning.
Murphy told staff members he regretted the timing of the decision but expressed his confidence that the district's leadership team, teachers and other staff members would ensure a smooth start to the school year, according to Markham.
Under Murphy's leadership, the school district developed its two-way immersion language program, African-centered curriculum and alternatives to suspension among other initiatives, according to the release. The school district also saw growing enrollment during his tenure, and recently began a process to expanding and renovating some of its buildings.
Before coming to District 65 in 1999, Murphy spent 20 years working for the Fort Worth Independent School District, according to his profile on the district website.
Murphy said in the statement that during his time at District 65, he was most proud of “seeing the African American and Latino students...climb one rung of the achievement ladder, exceeding the average achievement for that of all students across the state of Illinois.”
He also said he was proud of the district's instructional improvement initiative, which began providing support services to students in the classroom rather than pulling them away from their peers. He also noted the district's inclusion of student growth measures in professional appraisals as one of his achievements.
"The district has been recognized for how we developed a professional appraisal system that included student learning and growth as measures of professional success and for the supports that teachers receive through continued professional development throughout the year," Murphy said in the statement.
The school board will begin planning the search process for a permanent superintendent in mid-September, and has already discussed best practices for the process with the Illinois Association of School Boards, according to the release.
“We know that the board represents all stakeholders in Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and we will work hard to ensure that the community will have ample opportunity to provide input into the process before a superintendent is hired to serve our district for the next generation of students,” Quattrocki said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Hardy Murphy.