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Speakers question high number of African-American administrators issued layoff notices

Several people spoke at the April 5 school board meeting and presented a letter from the NAACP questioning the school district's issuing of layoff notices to a large number of African-American administrators. Speakers also questioned other practices and their impact on African-American students.

More than half of the district's 40 African American adminstrators received notices, according to speakers. Employees who receive the slips may be laid off or transferred, or could remain in their current positions. The community has been given little specific information about the district's plans, they noted.

In presenting the letter from several local chapters of the NAACP including El Cerrito's, the Rev. Phillip Lawson also said the district too often transfers students from school to school rather than addressing their needs. He called for a moritorium on transfers, except in emergencies, until the district can do an investigation of transfers showing ethnicity of students and reasons for transfers.

Long-time parent advocate Billie Alexander said he can remember a time when there were no African-American principals in the district. "African-American children need to see themselves in positions of authority the same as white children."

Manny Johnson asked whether the noticed employees had been properly trained and given the opportunity to correct any problems.

Darnell Turner, a NAACP spokesman, said the district has created a lot of anxiety by issuing the notices, yet has offered the community no details of its plans.

He also said all schools need to be safe and equally maintained.

"We are willing to form a partnership with this district," he said.

Although board president Glen Price noted before members of the public spoke that it isn't board policy to respond to speakers' comments immediately, Superintendent Gloria Johnston did offer a brief response afterward.

Johnston, who has been with the district just over a year, said "many years have gone by" without the district providing the education it should to its students and that improving the situation will require "difficult choices."

Johnston said she spoke to 140 administrators earlier in the day, asking them, "Do you believe that the current system we have right now . . . is working? Should we keep this system?"

"Their answer," she said, "was no."

Johnston asked the speakers to work with the district to make improvements, but offered no further details on her plans for reorganizing the district or responding to the questions raised.


Run dates: 2000-04-05 - 2000-04-25

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