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
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,"
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
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