D86 board hires new head of student services

Kari Smith will be the new assistant superintendent of student services in Hinsdale High School District 86 effective July 1.

Smith, whose appointment was approved by the school board May 12, will replace Brad Verthein, who is leaving to become the director of student services for Batavia Unit District 101.

Superintendent Tammy Prentiss thanked Verthein for his service and congratulated Smith.

“Dr. Smith is an accomplished educator and outstanding leader with a strong background in special education and a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area of social and emotional learning,” Prentiss said. “I am excited to have her join our team and look forward to working alongside her to advance our district’s mission and vision and help our students down the path toward their ideal future.”

Smith has spent more than 20 years in education, holding positions as a social worker, special education coordinator and director of special services For the past five years, she has been the head of student services for Elmwood Park Unit District 401.

Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work, a master’s in school leadership and a doctorate in special education. She is currently working toward her superintendent endorsement.

“While I have taken on a variety of roles and responsibilities during my career, my focus has always been on providing students with access to supportive learning environments that meet their needs, aid their growth and development, and help them feel more connected to their school, their teachers and each other,” Smith said. “I am excited about the myriad parallels that exist between this focus and the amazing work District 86 is doing in the areas of SEL, equity and transition programming.”

Smith received a two-year contract with a starting base salary of $176,000.