D97 hires new principal as key administrator resigns

Laura Zaniolo to lead Lincoln while HR head Laurie Campbell retires

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

During the its Feb. 12 meeting, members of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education voted to appoint a principal and accepted the resignation of another high-ranking administrator.

The board appointed Laura Zaniolo as permanent principal at Lincoln Elementary. Zaniolo replaces interim principal Theresa Silva and will start work on July 1.

The board also voted to accept the resignation of Laurie Campbell, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources. Campbell plans to retire in August after 33 years in education. She's the second top administrator to depart the district in less than two months.

Zaniolo will receive a one-year contract with a base salary of $117,490. For the Oak Park native, the appointment is a homecoming. Zaniolo attended Lincoln School, Emerson Middle School and Oak Park and River Forest High School.

She has bachelor's and master's degrees in teaching from Columbia College in Chicago and is pursuing her doctorate in urban education leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Lincoln is a school where I loved to learn school and I had teachers who were fully supportive of me," Zaniolo told school board members. "I love to come back and deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for every single Lincoln student. I hold the community in such high regard and it truly is a privilege."

Before her appointment at Lincoln, Zaniolo was the assistant principal at Portage Park Elementary School in Chicago for two years. She's also served as a resident principal, instructional coach and science and math teacher for various schools in Chicago, where she currently lives.

In a statement the district released on Feb. 12, Zaniolo said that Lincoln "has had a special place in my heart for many years."

During the Feb. 12 meeting, Laurie Campbell said that Zaniolo was one of 54 applicants, 29 of whom were video-screened while eight were interviewed over the course of two days by panels of parents and staff members. From that field of candidates, three finalists were selected.

District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelley lauded Zaniolo's appointment, stating that "her strong instructional background, student-centered approach to learning, and extensive knowledge of Lincoln, our district and Oak Park" were among the qualities that factored into her hiring.

As Zaniolo comes on board, Campbell, the district's assistant superintendent for human resources, is leaving. Campbell, who was hired in 2016, announced that she plans on retiring in order to spend "lots of quality time with family and friends, and taking a long-awaited dream vacation to Africa."

In the district's statement, Kelley praised Campbell's contributions to the district.

"In her time here in Oak Park, she has helped increase the diversity of our workforce, strengthened our practices for recruitment, hiring and student registration, led the successful negotiation of several collective bargaining agreements with our employee groups, and implemented programs that have supported the growth and development of our faculty and staff. She has been an important and incredibly valued member of our team, and will be missed."

Kelley said that the search for Campbell's replacement will start immediately and that district officials will continue to search for someone to replace Amy Warke, who headed up District 97's teaching and learning department.

Warke resigned in January to become the superintendent for LaGrange Highlands School District 106. 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Tabitha Brown  

Posted: February 15th, 2019 1:51 PM

Well, John and Jameel, there are two senior level administrator positions opening up. Both of these positions have heavy input on the hiring of teachers and principals. Perhaps if they were to place black individuals in either of those positions, the district can reach its "goal" to hire more black teachers. Honestly, I wouldn't dare hold my breath ...

John Duffy  

Posted: February 15th, 2019 8:27 AM

Thank you Jameel for sharing so passionately and eloquently Tuesday night what I hope so many of huge crowd at the D 97 BOE meeting on February 12th were thinking and feeling. On an evening when so many gathered to focus on the draft Racial Equity Policy, with its pledge to hire more teachers of color, the Board was starting the meeting celebrating the hiring of the Lincoln school principal who happened to be white. The irony, disruption and frustration of that moment, as you stressed was not a slam on Lincoln's new principal; it was a painful reminder of our ongoing failure to hire teachers of color so vital to our children's health and learning?"a call scores of people stood up for just one year ago. It is past due for the community to know just what District 97 is doing to hire more teachers and principals of color. As the Equity Policy mandates?"what are the goals and actions in place to achieve racial equity? How are we structuring accountability? What authentic voice do families of color and others who have been underrepresented in district decision-making have in the design, process, evaluation and revision of D 97 efforts to hire more teachers of color? In these matters at least, D200 Board has opened the high school hiring reform to input, accountability with community participation from APPLE, SUA and CEEE. We will soon share exactly what has been accomplished in the first year of D 200 work of hiring and what still needs to happen.

Tabitha Brown from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2019 4:57 PM

Okay, at what point is someone going to ask "why"? Why do all of these high paying, senior-level administrators come and go so quickly? Think about it; in the last five years alone, the district has gone through three HR administrators - in five years! And how many business office administrators? The district is in its third! Again, in five years! The community complains about taxes as it relates to the school districts; the referendum. But no one is questioning why! How much money do these people make? How much money do they take with them in pensions when they leave? This is coming out of our pockets! Someone needs to really take a look at what's going in the district. At a deeper level. Something's not right. Mismanagement somewhere.

Jameel Rafia from Oak Park   

Posted: February 14th, 2019 8:47 AM

After many hours of conversation about Racial Equity and Hiring of more Teachers/ and Persons of color in Oak Park school District; They go and Hire a White woman..... I Am Not Impressed

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