D211 superintendent search should prioritize diversity, transparency and equity


Courtesy of d211.org

211 is the second largest high school district in Illinois with five high schools and 12,000 students.

Ryan Tsau, Opinions Editor

With current D211 Superintendent Daniel Cates scheduled to retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year, the district has begun the arduous process of finding a new superintendent for the largest school district in Illinois.

As part of the process of finding a new superintendent, the district has hired the search firm School Exec Connect to identify potential external hires. School Exec Connect has in turn collected information about the needs and priorities of D211 by interviewing administrators, faculty, students, and members of the local community.

At Palatine High School this included an interview with a group of juniors and seniors, who met with School Exec Connect in late August to share Palatine’s opinions on the necessary qualities for the District’s new leader. I was given the opportunity to attend this meeting to provide a perspective from Palatine students and take notes on what we were looking for in the next superintendent.

The most significant conclusion that we reached was the importance of diversity; Palatine is an incredibly diverse school with students of varying race, income, and background, and Palatine students want administration that represents them. While a new superintendent shouldn’t be chosen solely based on race, gender, or any other such factor, we agreed that a new superintendent should prioritize creating an administration that better represents both Palatine and the district as a whole.

“A new superintendent needs to understand the diversity within the district,” PHS senior Valery Lopez said. “Students in the district will be best off if they feel support from both administration and teachers.”

In the same vein, we agreed that district administration should expand with the goal of promoting equity. We want to see Principal Medina’s policy expanded to a district level, with wide-reaching benefits for D211 students.

Finally, many of us expressed concern regarding some of the district’s more controversial policies. With regards to subjects like the district’s transgender policy and staff turnover, students want a superintendent that values transparency and honesty. Having a trustworthy superintendent would help build trust and goodwill from students and the community.

District 211 currently plans to announce their choice by early November, allowing time for the next superintendent to prepare to take the reins from Dr. Cates. In order to best represent the students of Palatine High School and the district as a whole, D211 should prioritize hiring a candidate who embraces diversity, transparency and equity for students and administration alike.