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JCPS 'Not Doing a Good Enough Job' In Minority Teacher Hiring, District Official Says

Jefferson County Public Schools administrators are looking to hire more non-white teachers.

Since 2008, minority teachers have accounted for just about 16 percent of the total teaching staff in JCPS, according to district data discussed Monday at the Jefferson County Board of Education meeting.

Minority students, on the other hand, make up a majority of the student population in JCPS at about 52 percent, according to district data.

“We do have a problem,” said Michael Raisor, the district’s chief operations officer.  He said the district’s current hiring process “isn’t working” in terms of ensuring diversity.

He said district officials are working to change the current disproportionate number of white teachers compared to minority teachers, but it is not going to be a quick process.

For instance, Raisor said if JCPS doubled the number of minority teachers hired prior to the start of the 2014 school year, the percentage of minority teachers as the whole would increase from 16 percent to just 16.5 percent.

“We’re in sort of a deep hole—it’s going to take a while to come out of this,” he added.

Of the 522 newly hired teachers in 2014, 76 were minorities, according to district data.

Raisor said increasing the pool of qualified minority candidates is key to boosting minority employment numbers.

Applications from minority candidates accounted for just 15 percent of all applications received in 2014, Raisor said. That’s 214 applications, according to district data.

Raisor said the district is “just not doing a good enough job” at recruiting minority teachers.  One way to combat that, Raisor said, would be to develop partnerships with Kentucky colleges, specifically Kentucky State University

KSU is a historically black university, but last year JCPS hired just two teachers from the university, Raisor said.

“We can do a better job than that,” he added.

As for school administrators, the numbers a bit more reflective of the community.

Here's a look.

And here is a look at assistant principal demographics.

Raisor also emphasized the need for an expedited hiring process.  He said too often qualified minority applicants are lost in a sea of paperwork that takes too long to finalize, resulting in the candidates taking jobs elsewhere.

“The applicant tracking system that we’ve been using is a failed system, it needs updating,” said Mark Rosen, the district’s director of human resources.

He said an updated system will decrease the application-to-hire timeframe and get qualified candidates into classrooms and schools faster.

Board member Linda Duncan said the teaching staff must reflect the school community. Currently, minority students make up about 52 percent of the student body.

“It’s critical that we get out there and beat the bushes on recruiting minority staff,” she said.

Board member Diane Porter she “will not be satisfied” until the disproportionate numbers are addressed and a plan of action is put into place.

“It’s gone on too long,” she said.

As a short term goal, district officials hope to hire at least 100 new minority teachers by September 2015 and retain at least 90 minority teachers through the 2014-2015 school year, according to JCPS.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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