District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelley to Resign at End of 2020-21 School Year

Dr. Carol Kelley, superintendent of schools for Oak Park Elementary School District 97, will resign at the end of 2020-21 school year to accept the position of superintendent for Princeton Public Schools in New Jersey. 

The District 97 Board of Education is expected to formally accept Kelley’s resignation during an upcoming meeting. Her last day with the district will be June 30, 2021.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the superintendent of District 97,” Kelley said. “After six years, I am incredibly proud of the progress we have made, the challenges we’ve weathered and the successes we’ve celebrated along the way. As much as I have loved this work and the team I work with every day, I know it’s the right time for me to move closer to home.

“I am eternally grateful to our students, families, staff and community leaders—all of whom have contributed to my personal and professional growth over the past six years. I'm so proud of how much we have accomplished together, including investing in our classrooms and our teachers; strengthening our engagement and collaboration with our students and families; and elevating equity and inclusion as the defining values driving our work.”

Kelley has served as the superintendent of District 97 since 2015. Notable successes during her time in charge have included:

  • Passing a comprehensive racial and educational equity policy and developing programs to help eliminate opportunity gaps and ensure that every child has access to an excellent and equitable educational experience.
  • Launching the community engagement strategy that enabled the creation of a shared vision statement and five-year strategic plan.
  • Implementing standardized math and literacy curricula in the early grades and increasing the percentage of students projected college ready in mathematics by 11%.
  • Passing a $70.8 million referendum to build the operating reserve and make facilities improvements to support the student population growth and prepare 21st century learning environments.
  • Expanding inclusive teaching practices, including co-teaching, math differentiation and expanded access to enrichment opportunities.
  • Increasing the diversity of the district’s instructional workforce.

In 2020, Kelley was named a Superintendent of Distinction by her colleagues in the West Cook region of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. Most recently, she has overseen the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the implementation of a hybrid learning plan in February 2021.

“We want to thank Dr. Kelley for six years of dedicated service to District 97 and the Oak Park community,” Board President Keecia Broy said. “We are grateful for her leadership and unwavering commitment to equity, which has contributed to meaningful advancements in student learning and district operations. Although the Board is disappointed to see her go, we know that this is a special opportunity for Dr. Kelley to return home, and we wish her the best as she embarks on this new chapter.”

Information about the district’s plans to search for a successor will be shared with the community in the coming weeks. Kelley said she will work closely with the board and administration to ensure a smooth transition over the next several months.

“I remain committed to District 97 and will continue working with the best interest of our students, staff and families in mind,” Kelley said.