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School Board hires new staff to help comply with desegregation order


The Indian River County School Board is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to finally complying after a half century with a federal court desegregation order.

The board is backing up its vow of compliance by funding two new positions in the school district’s Equity Department.

The board voted Nov. 12 to immediately begin seeking a fulltime data analyst, but wanted more details about a teacher on assignment position, where duties would include working with teachers and principals in various schools to correct inequity.

“The teacher on assignment role does require some sensitivity and some awareness and training in the particular issue,” said board member Mara Schiff.

Schiff’s concern was echoed by other board members.

Job duties for the data analyst will include gathering and studying data to determine the effectiveness of the district’s efforts to improve African-American student achievement and recruit, hire and retain more African-American teachers, officials said.

Achieving those goals is a requirement of a desegregation order the district spent decades fighting.

Under the leadership of former superintendent Mark Rendell, and a previous board, the district spent more than four years and $775,000 battling a lawsuit filed by the NAACP to force compliance with the order.

The current board has shown a dramatic change of heart in working with the NAACP and making plans to comply with the desegregation order.

During an Oct. 30 meeting with the NAACP and the district’s Equity Committee, the board said it would begin taking steps to meet the order’s requirements in November.

At that same meeting, the board and NAACP reviewed and discussed a report released by the Equity Committee that gave the district failing marks for its efforts to recruit, hire and retain African-American teachers and adequately address the needs of African American students, who consistently perform far below their white classmates.

The School Board did not dispute any of the findings in the Equity Committee’s report. Instead board members used the meeting to seek additional input from the NAACP and Equity Committee, whose report included several recommendations on how the district could improve its efforts.

Among other things, the board agreed to the committee’s recommendation that the district set an initial goal of making sure there are at least five teachers of African- American descent in each school.

The board also agreed to better monitor equity progress.

Interim Superintendent Susan Moxley told the board during its Nov. 12 work session that her staff is working on a plan that will include compiling quarterly instead of annual reports for the board to see what progress, if any, is being made.