Citizens issue concerns with hiring practices of Demopolis School System

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 10, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Concerned citizen’s crowded the Demopolis School Board building for their August meeting to express their concerns over the hiring practices of the school system.

Major Walker addressed the board and in a statement released Tuesday showed the groups displeasure. The statement read as follows:

A group of concerned citizens addressed the Board of Education Monday evening concerning the hiring practices in the previous years, specifically, this year. They were concerned that this year alone, there did not seem to be enough diversity in the hiring of new employees when you consider the minority student population and the minority teacher population that already exists in the system. They wanted to know how many certified new employees were hired this year, how many are currently highly qualified and how many are minorities. Also, they wanted to know how many qualified existing teachers are in the system and of those how many are African American.

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The concerned citizen’s also wanted to know if any recruiting practices are in place to attract minority applicants to the system. The group of concerned citizens wanted the Board of Education to know that they were not demanding anything, but they are requesting responses to their questions. They would like the board to give their concerns the utmost consideration.

The group thanked the board for listening to their concerns and left when the board went into executive session.

Demopolis City School Superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill said they normally try to keep a fair percentage of minorities in both administration and support, but turnover can skew the numbers.

“Basically we run about 25 percent in our administration and about 60 in our support personnel,” Hill said. “At the end of the year that percentage will change as teacher retire and move on to other jobs.”

One of the problems the system faced in the area of minority hires was a smaller pool of applicants. Hill said the numbers were thin in specific areas when applications were accepted.

“There were not a lot of minority applicants who got jobs in secondary math and science,” Hill said. “We did not have a lot of applicants in those areas. The pool was very thin in that area.”

Hill also said several teachers had left the system because of retirements and transfers to other school systems. He said when these vacancies arose they always looked for the most qualified replacement they could find.

“We take our applications and applicants very seriously and we do the best we can to lure the best teachers we can find to the school system,” Hill said. “We don’t have anything to be ashamed of at trying to get the best teachers we can.”

Hill said a lot of the vacancies caught them by surprise and were part of a statewide teacher shortage that has plagued the entire state. Hill added they always try to hire the best teacher for the job no matter their ethnicity.

“We put our heart and soul into hiring the best teachers we can for our school system,” Hill said. “Certainly if the best candidate is a minority we are more than willing to hire them.”