Former suburban superintendents to lead District 214 search

  • Former suburban superintendents Connie Collins and Brian Harris, now with the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, will lead the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 search for a new superintendent.

      Former suburban superintendents Connie Collins and Brian Harris, now with the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, will lead the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 search for a new superintendent. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

Updated 12/15/2022 10:01 PM

A Schaumburg-based national educational executive search firm will help find Superintendent David Schuler's replacement in Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates will be paid a fee equal to 20% of the new superintendent's salary, as part of a search led by consultants Brian Harris, the retired Barrington Area Unit District 220 superintendent, and Connie Collins, the retired Round Lake Unit District 116 superintendent.


The fee also includes the recruitment and placement of an interim superintendent to oversee the district after Schuler leaves in mid-February, when he'll become executive director of AASA, the national school superintendents association.

Schuler, who has overseen the state's second-largest high school district for 17 years, was paid a base salary of $175,000 in his first year and makes $335,344 today. Using that salary range for his replacement, the search firm could stand to earn anywhere from $35,000 to $67,000.

A new superintendent could be selected by May -- in time for the start of the new school year -- under a preliminary timeline presented to the school board this week by Harris and Collins.

The search firm won't charge for the consultants' travel or meal expenses, but the school board can pay extra for national advertising, for third-party background checks into candidates' court and financial records and transcript verification, as well as travel expenses for finalists brought on site, Harris said.

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If the new superintendent leaves within the first year, the firm will redo the search for free. And the firm promises not to solicit the new superintendent as a candidate for another job for three years, Harris said.

Hazard, Young, Attea was the firm the school board retained in 2004 to coordinate a recruitment process that resulted in Schuler's hiring from a pre-K-12 school district in central Wisconsin. The selection launched one of the longest tenures of a District 214 superintendent, during which Schuler was named National Superintendent of the Year.

But the suburban firm, which has conducted some 14,000 searches since 1987, has also mishandled some high-profile searches, as detailed in a 2018 Daily Herald story. That included the agency's failure to learn that former Des Plaines Elementary District 62 Superintendent Floyd Williams, who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations in 2017, faced similar accusations at his previous job in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

District 214 board President Bill Dussling -- who was on the board when Schuler was hired -- indicated in a letter to the community Tuesday that the board considered other available search firms.


But HYA was the only one to give a presentation during a special board meeting Monday night.

Dussling said HYA would gather input from various stakeholders through surveys and focus groups to create a candidate profile, and that would be used by the firm to help identify and narrow down a pool of candidates for the board's consideration.

"We have an aggressive recruiting phase. We go out and look for candidates. We don't wait for candidates to come to us, although we invite them to come to us," Collins said. "But we are aggressive. We go out. And we feel it's really important that we recruit people from across the country who may be a good fit for the district."

HYA would present a slate of five to perhaps as many as a dozen candidates for a first round of interviews in March, then the board would narrow down that list ahead of another round of interviews. After picking finalists and doing more interviews and possible site visits, a contract would be offered.

"We're going to spend a lot of time recruiting and vetting. We know we are. There's going to be high interest in this role," Harris said. "It's a very desirable district -- suburban Chicago. It's a great place to be as an educator."

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