During the a meeting for Texas's Desoto Independent School District Board, School Board Trustee Jerry Hall made a controversial statement that has generated discussion and anger:
"We need to hire more white administrators and white teachers."
Since he uttered this message, there has been plenty of negative response from area leaders, parents, and teachers.
Newly elected DeSoto City Council Trustee Candice Quarles said via Facebook:
"Not sure what magical white powers these newly hired teachers would have over a district that's 70%+ black. Besides white supremacy of course. It's 2016. This is your innovative solution for OUR kids? Have several seats."
The Board of Trustees President Carl Sherman, Jr. was at the board's annual summer retreat, but released a statement in which he explained that the board and district would never use "racial quotas" to make hiring decisions. He added that it was the candidates' qualifications that were considered, not his or her race, according to Joshua Johnson of Focus Daily News.
At last month's board meeting, a voluntary racial integration plan was presented as part of a $12 million federal grant process. This kind of award would make a big difference in the district's budget, amounting to $3 million annually over a four-year period.
Later during the meeting, the discussion included the topic of the "white flight" of Desoto ISD white students and white teachers. The economic troubles in 2008 resulted in enrollment decline and budgetary concerns.
Desoto County's and neighboring areas' white families began to enroll their children in private, magnet, charter, or other traditional schools. Now, Desoto's enrollment is 78.2% African-American. The County reports that its staff is made up of 21% white, 9% Hispanic, and approximately 67% black teachers. Superintendent Dr. David Harris said the Hispanic community is the fastest-growing population in the area.
Desoto schools are not the only institutions that are wrestling with demographic changes. Five other North Texas districts will also be receiving the grant.
The US Census Bureau said that in 2010, the racial makeup of Desoto County was 68% African-American, 23% white, and 12% Latino. The district will not attract additional white students by hiring more Caucasian teachers, said Trustee Sandre Moncriffe. The white students simply do not live in the district.
Trustee Karen Daniel contended:
"You don't have to just have teachers who look like the students," said Daniel. "The point is if we look at the community we see black, white, purple and green people. But if we look at the schools that is not what we see â¦ we have a lot of white students who live here [in DeSoto] but go to other places for school and it's because we aren't diverse. They socialize here but they don't go to school here. We have to meet the needs of every kid no matter what race they are."
Before the meeting concluded, the members approved joining onto a voluntary integration plan with a 7-0 vote.
School Board Trustee Vandous Stripling, who was serving his last day on the board at the May meeting, said he was embarrassed by Hall's statement and was disappointed, reports Demond Fernandez of WFAA-TV.