Board hears views on recruiting minority teachers

Published 7:58 am Wednesday, October 24, 2007

By Staff
Black community continues to wait for board’s response
Staff Writer
After waiting two and a half hours Monday night, Shana Roberson didn’t hear as much as she would have liked to hear at the Beaufort County Board of Education’s meeting.
Roberson was among nine blacks who stayed at the meeting long enough to hear a report from the board’s Minority Recruitment Committee. When the meeting began, many more blacks helped fill the room where the meeting was conducted. They wanted information about why the school system has few black teachers, one black principal and what the school board plans to do about that situation.
A month after a standing-room-only crowd attended the board’s September meeting to voice concerns about the lack of diversity among county educators, the black community is still waiting for a response to those concerns, said William O’Pharrow, president of the county’s NAACP chapter.
Of the 498 teachers working in the county’s public schools, 39 are black. Of the 14 principals in the school system, one is black. Victoria Mallison is the principal of the Beaufort County Ed Tech Center, an alternative school. Joe Boston, president of the Beaufort County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, read a list of concerns, including those statistics, at the board’s September meeting. The school board did not hire a black person for any position in the school system last year, a first since segregation in the schools ended, Boston said at that meeting.
Members of the black community took to the steps of the Beaufort County Courthouse on Saturday to decry what they have said is a discrepancy in the school system’s hiring policies.
After the September meeting, school board Chairman Robert Belcher vowed to form a committee to study the numbers of minorities in the school system and address how the board could recruit more blacks for leadership positions.
Board member Eltha Booth is heading the nine-member Minority Recruitment Committee.
School system faces challenges in hiring them, says recruiter
Senior Reporter
Kelvin Cyrus, who recruits teachers for Beaufort County Schools, on Monday told the Beaufort County Board of Education that hiring minority teachers can be difficult.
Cyrus, executive director of the school system’s human-resources department, told the board there are minority teachers available — just not that many of them. Once they are found, he said, the next step is to get them to commit to working for the school system.
Cyrus told the board the school system, by just a slight margin, has more minority teachers working this school year than the state produces each year.
This year at North Carolina State University, the largest university in the state with approximately 31,000 students, there are 150 students in its education school, and 17 of them are minorities, he said. After they graduate, Cyrus said, 10 to 12 of them will be employed as teachers, which about 6 percent to 8 percent of the number of students in the education school.
Last year, 330 minority teachers were hired statewide, Cyrus said.
Because larger school districts have more money, they tend to attract more teachers, including minority teachers, than smaller, poorer school systems, Cyrus said
In other business, board members Teressa Banks and Cindy Winstead said that staph and MRSA infections have been seen in Beaufort County schools in the area of about 30 cases per month for the past five years. MRSA is an acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, a type of staph infection resistant to antibiotics.
Banks said the infections usually are found in warm, moist areas in a building and not in open, dry areas.
The infections started in hospitals years ago, moved to nursing homes and day-care centers and are trickling into schools, it seems, said F. Mac Hodges, vice chairman of the board.
Board member E.C. Peed said she has a daughter and a grandchild who are potentially subjected to viruses in the schools. Peed said she did not want to see a Beaufort County school closed for several days the way Pines Elementary School in Plymouth was closed because of something that caused some students there to become sick.
Some Beaufort County students have staph infections, Banks said. Those students are removed immediately from their respective schools at first sign of infection, she said. A school nurse makes the final determination if and when a student who was infected may return to school.
Board member William Warren is concerned that once an infection enters a student’s body it will remain there.
During the public-comment period of the meeting and before the board began discussing staph and MRSA matter, Donna Woolard addressed the school board about her concerns with health-related issue.
Woolard said there has been “a complete and arrogant dismissal” of parents’ concerns about the infections.
The school system’s administrators at the central office said they were “unaware of it,” according to Woolard. Woolard said the board, during its September meeting, “tried to blame the parents of the victims for MRSA outbreaks.”
Victims’ parents who are health-care providers at three facilities in two counties all tested negative for both strains of MRSA, she said.
Staff writer Dan Parsons contributed to this story.