District Administration December2017 - 25
Strategies for building
a diverse district
Schools want teaching staff to reflect students' racial and religious makeup
ot every school considers
diversity an essential even
though a business case can be
made for it. At the very least, a diverse
workforce leads to employee innovation,
increased productivity and a positive
The following districts recognize the
benefits of a diverse workforce and have
made it a priority. Take a look at some
of their practices. By adopting some of
their strategies, and tweaking or enhancing them, you may enrich the teacherstudent experience at your district.
Meriden Public Schools,
* 8,600 students (67 percent Hispanic
* 675 teachers (5 percent Hispanic or
To increase diversity within its
teacher ranks, the district practices "onthe-spot" hiring of minority candidates,
Superintendent Mark Benigni says.
"If we meet a minority candidate
who we think is good for the district,
we're going to hire them," he says. "We
fast-track the interviewing process. If
we wait for the school team to interview
them and return information to the administration, we've lost the candidate."
Five years ago, the district created
two programs designed to recruit people
of color: the teacher developer program
and the teacher support program.
The development program attracts
certified teachers for their first job.
They're offered a position as a perma-
By Carol Patton
A diverse workforce
leads to employee
productivity and a
to attract students to teaching careers.
"It's a mistake to think we're going to
diversify a school district in the Northwest by finding diverse candidates in
other states and transplant them here,"
Grubb says. "We need homegrown
strategies that build on the diversity that
exists in our district and region."
nent substitute teacher-which includes
assisting other classroom teachers-at
$500 a week and are guaranteed one interview with the district, Benigni says.
Support program participants are
undergraduates who apply for a substitute certificate. They're paid $75 per day
to work with the district's teachers and
receive authentic classroom experience.
"We can give them on-site experience and make them a more viable candidate in the future," says Benigni. The
program supports nearly 30 participants
and has enabled the district to shrink its
diversity gap by hiring up to four minority candidates per year.
McKinney ISD, McKinney, Texas
* 25,000 students (nearly half Hispanic,
black or Asian)
* 1,670 teachers (80 percent white)
The district created a committee
to encourage principals to seek diverse
candidates. Administrators of color also
go on recruiting trips. The committee
supports two subcommittees-one for
recruitment and selection, and the other
for retention and staff development.
"We always strive to have our teaching ranks reflect our community and
student body," says Tamira Griffin, the
district's assistant superintendent and
chief HR officer. "We keep that topic at
the forefront of our principals' minds."
The district celebrates diversity as
well, with several schools named after
minority community leaders whose
accomplishments are discussed in classrooms and published in newsletters.
Teachers bring in objects from their
native countries and discuss them with
students, emphasizing the importance of
diversity. Teachers of color are also featured in a video promoting the district.
"All these things bring richness to
the mix and conversation," says Griffin.
"We all come from a different place and
contribute in a great and mighty way in
that overall conversation." DA
Highline School District,
* 20,000 students (75 percent black,
Hispanic and Asian)
* 1,350 teachers (majority white)
Two years ago, human resources
created a workforce development team
tasked with recruiting and retaining
teachers of color, says Steve Grubb, chief
talent officer at Highline.
A state grant provides the district's
bilingual tutors with tuition assistance
to pursue a teaching degree. Most of
the 15 graduates this year are people
of color who-surprisingly-are not
required to teach in the district after
graduation. Likewise, a teaching academy was developed at one high school
Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who
specializes in human resources issues.
December 2017 25