During its meeting on Tuesday, March 12, the District 97 Board of Education approved the appointment of Eboney Lofton as the district's new chief academic and accountability officer. Lofton, who currently serves as the district’s senior director of special education, will be replacing Dr. Amy Warke, who announced in December that she was resigning to accept the position of superintendent for LaGrange Highlands School District 106. She is scheduled to begin her new role with the district on July 1, 2019.
“I want to congratulate Eboney on her appointment as the chief academic and accountability officer for District 97,” said Superintendent Carol Kelley. “She has demonstrated incredible leadership during her time here, especially in conjunction with our efforts to expand inclusive instructional practices such as co-teaching, promote the use of data-informed decision-making and incorporate student voice into the IEP process. I am confident that she will excel in this role and help our students, staff and schools enjoy continued success.”
In a memorandum to the board, Superintendent Kelley detailed a pair of changes that will accompany Lofton’s appointment. The first change is that Lofton will oversee and manage the district’s teaching and learning and special education departments starting in the fall of 2019. According to Kelley, the goal/purpose of the move is to strengthen the alignment and collaboration between the two departments. The second change is for the supervision of the principals to move from the teaching and learning department to the office of the superintendent.
In that same memorandum, Kelley shared that the district intends to fill the vacancy in the senior director of special education position that was created by Lofton’s appointment. By doing so, she said, the district can “continue to observe and evaluate our related services staff in an efficient and effective manner.” In terms of cost, the chief academic and accountability officer position was already factored into the budget for the 2019-20 school year, while the money to pay for the senior director of special education position was included in the district’s annual IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) grant application. As a result, filling the two positions will be cost neutral. The district plans to begin its search to fill the senior director position immediately.
Lofton, who has worked for four years in District 97 and more than 20 years in education as a teacher, psychologist and administrator, said she is looking forward to the exciting challenges that lie ahead.
“I want to thank the District 97 Board of Education and Superintendent Kelley for this tremendous opportunity,” said Lofton. “My time here in Oak Park has been among the most rewarding of my career. I have been blessed to work alongside amazing students, staff members and families. I have also seen firsthand how passionate and invested this community is in the education of its children. It is that passion and commitment that will continue to drive and motivate me as a I take on this new role.”
As for the efforts to better align teaching and learning and special education, Lofton cites the district’s co-teaching program as an example of the strong relationship that already exists between the two departments.
“Each of our co-taught classrooms has a general education teacher and special education teacher working side by side to serve our students,” said Lofton. “The decision to introduce the model here and its success to date are due, in part, to the positive and productive partnership that teaching and learning and special education have cultivated over the years. By combining the overall management of both departments under one position, we can further foster that partnership, and help ensure that we continue to meet the needs of all our students.”
About Eboney Lofton
Eboney Lofton has served as District 97’s senior director of special education since July 1, 2017. Prior to that, she was the district’s director of special education for two years, and held several different positions with Chicago Public Schools over the course of a 17-year period (executive director of specially designed instruction from 2011 to 2016, psychology manager for the 2008-09 school year and a school psychologist from 2003 to 2008). She also taught elementary school from 1999 to 2002.
Lofton has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University, a master’s degree in Education and education specialist degree in School Psychology from National Louis University, and a certification in Leadership and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also currently working toward a doctorate in Educational Psychology from National Louis University.