Seeking minority educators: Schools show disparity between students and staff
WARREN — Local members of a national civil rights organization are concerned about the limited number of minority — particularly black — teachers and administrators in Warren City School District, the largest urban school district in Trumbull County.
“There are only a handful in these positions,” said Annette McCoy, president of the Trumbull County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The Tribune Chronicle requested student and staff numbers by the district broken down by race and found a large imbalance among black and white educators and other staff members compared to the student population. Numbers from August show:
• About 40.5 percent of Warren City School District’s student population of 4,972 is black, yet 95 percent of the district’s 455 teachers and 87 percent of the district’s 40 certified / licensed administrators are white.
That means Warren City Schools employs one black teacher for every 100 black students and one white teacher for every 20 white students.
• In supervisory, but non-certified positions, blacks account for 13 percent and whites, 83 percent.
• Blacks account for only 4.6 percent of the teaching staff and 7.5 percent of the administrative staff.
• Sixty-five percent of the 86 educational assistants are white compared to 31 percent black.
“There seems to be a deficiency in the recruitment and hiring process,” said William Pinn, vice president of the Trumbull County NAACP branch. “We have been talking about this as an issue for three years.”
In Ohio, 92.5 percent of the teachers are white and 4.3 percent are black, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Education for the 2015-16 school year.
In the same school year, there were about 1.7 million kindergarten through 12th-grade students in Ohio. Of them, about 16.5 percent were black and 71.1 percent were white.
McCoy said her organization wants more diversity among teachers and administrators in the school system.
“We are asking for the district to open up its hiring process and include members of the community in the recruitment and the hiring of new teachers, new principals and other administration officials,” she said.
The NAACP questions how the district recruits and why it is challenged to attract qualified minority candidates even to interview for open positions.
Warren Schools Superintendent Steve Chiaro recognizes the percentage of black teachers and administrators in the district is low, but says it is not for a lack of trying.
Chiaro said he is concerned about finding qualified minority candidates and has looked at different ways to hire more minorities, including actively recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCU, and finding ways to encourage graduates of the district to return to teach.
“I’ve talked to Cleveland (Metropolitan School District) CEO Eric Gordon about what is being done in Cleveland,” Chiaro said. “They hired a firm to search for candidates at HBCUs and at other education schools.”
“We simply are not going to compete with Cleveland in going out to convince new minority teaching graduates to move to Ohio,” Chiaro said. “We can’t compete with their salaries and what is available to them in the district.”
Chiaro said the district’s long-term approach is to identify its high school students interested in teaching and mentor them while they are still at Warren G. Harding High School.
But longtime Warren school board member Bob Faulkner said fewer black high school graduates are seeking and receiving education degrees.
“I’ve been to these schools, and you do not see very many black teaching candidates,” he said. “It is difficult to get candidates when there are so few available.”
Warren City School District also is working with the Beeghly College of Education at Youngstown State University to mentor candidates while they still are in college. The school, Chiaro said, has pledged on-campus housing vouchers for any recommended Warren G. Harding graduate who wants to attend the college of education.
Encouraging future Harding graduates to seek education degrees and return to the district to teach is, at best, a solution that will take several years to show results, Chiaro said. Aknowleding that, the district also is working with non-teaching employees interested in obtaining teaching certifications.
“We want teachers who will want to stay here once they begin their careers,” Chiaro said. “We believe we will have a better opportunity with teachers who are from this area.”
But McCoy said the numbers show simply that what’s been done so far isn’t working.
She would like the district to consider having community residents, including a member of the NAACP, be involved in recruitment and interviewing.
“Our vice president, William Pinn, for example, has a doctorate degree in education, so he could be beneficial in candidate interviews,” she said.
McCoy said teaching and administrator position openings could be forwarded to the NAACP, so they can be placed on its national jobs website to broaden the pool of potential candidates.
“We are willing to help in any way we can,” she said.
Statistics show this issue is not limited to Warren.
Employment numbers in other area districts also show an imbalance when compared to the student population racial makeup.
Austintown Local Schools in the 2015-16 school year had one black teacher, for 0.4 percent of its 303-person teaching staff, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
In comparison, white students represent 78.5 percent of the population and black students represent 11.8 percent in Austintown school district.
Superintendent Vince Colaluca said the district will consider the resume of any qualified candidate for teaching and other positions.
“We look for the best candidate for the job,” Colaluca said. “We do have diversity in student enrollment. We are open to everyone.”
Colaluca said district personnel attend job fairs at area schools, including YSU and Notre Dame to find possible candidates and the district posts open positions with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.
“We do not go to institutions geared to any particular race or ethnic group,” Colaluca said. “I hope we are a color blind society. That’s how I approach my job.”
Youngstown City Schools, like Warren, is a large urban district with a large black student population — 62 percent of the district’s 5,251 students are black, numbers provided by the district show. Nearly 14.5 percent are white.
Yet, only 8.1 percent of that district’s 493 teachers are black. Nearly 90 percent are white.
Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip was unavailable for comment.
LaBrae Local School District, which borders Warren City Schools to the west, had 1,211 students in the 1015-16 school year, according to the state. Of those, 4 percent were black and 88.9 were white.
The district has 82 teachers, all white.
Superintendent A.J. Calderone said that district does not have an active recruiting program geared toward attracting minority teaching and administrative candidates. It primarily seeks candidates through advertisements sent to the Trumbull County Educational Service Center and other education services.
“I can understand why school districts with higher minority student populations would actively seek out more minority teachers and administrators,” he said.