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Diversifying San Diego Schools Staff Gets Renewed Attention

— In 2012, the most recent data show, 68.8 percent of San Diego Unified teachers and administrators were white, 16.4 percent were Hispanic and 5.6 percent were African-American or black.

Aired 10/10/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego Unified has struggled to diversify school and district staff.

Meanwhile, 23.3 percent of students were white, 46 percent were Hispanic and 10.8 percent were African-American or black.

A recent slate of mostly white new hires in the district’s central office raised concerns for Board Trustee Marne Foster, who voiced them at a Board of Education meeting in September. Now, she's looking for a solution by forming a committee to focus on diversifying the district's hiring pool.

She believes it will be key to look not only at numbers, but whether diverse staff have meaningful input. That input will be important, she said, especially when it comes to allocating resources and training teachers as the district rolls out new, rigorous curriculum standards.

“We need to dig deeper," Foster said, "To critically analyze texts and problem solve. This cannot happen without being able to relate and develop relationships of trust and respect with our students.”

Schools trustees voted unanimously to support Foster's initiative at their Tuesday night meeting, after hearing from parents, school staff and at least one student who all want to see more diverse staffing in San Diego Schools.

Donna Gonzalez, a student at Morse High School told trustees the school's Filipino language and culture classes have meant a lot to her.

"Without them I wouldn't have been able to do all of this community service and this was because we had all of the these Filipino teachers," Gonzalez said before the vote. "So please support this resolution so that students from all walks of life will be able to learn from someone that cares and understands them on a more personal level."

Having a staff that mirrors the city’s student body is part of the district's Vision 2020, a plan to improve neighborhood schools that the board adopted in 2009.

Diversifying San Diego Schools Staff Gets Renewed Attention

Above: San Diego Unified has struggled to diversify school and district staff.