Unfair practices, claim black educators in county

Published 7:23 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Many African American educators and parents in Crenshaw County feel that they are being “less than adequately represented” within the Crenshaw County School System, according to Chuck Person, who addressed the Board of Education at its June 1 meeting.

“We feel that there have been qualified African American teachers who have been unfairly dismissed once they come up for tenure,” Person said during the standing-room only Board meeting. “We want you (the Board) to do an investigation of the recruitment and dismissal of the non-renewed teachers and get back to us within 30 days.”

Person, who is a Brantley High alumnus, said that his figures showed Brantley School with a 65 percent white student population and a 95 percent white teacher population.

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Dennis Bogen, chairman of the Crenshaw County Democratic Conference, was also present at the meeting.

“We’ve had complaints from all three schools,” Bogen said. “Teachers and teachers’ aides have been complaining to me over the years, but especially the last two years. They told me they were tired of it and they wanted us to hold our elected officials accountable.”

Board Chairman Steve Sanders told Person that they would look into the matter.

“You will get a response quickly,” Sanders said.

Board Attorney Mike Jones said this week that he had met with both Person and Bogen since the Board meeting.

“We gave them information about how we hire teachers and the process we use,” Jones said. “We’re going to meet with them again and go through that (hiring) process and how hard we work to try to get good, quality applicants.”

Jones said that he and Alfredia Griffin-Johnson, Curriculum and Instruction coordinator, would be meeting with Person and Bogen.

“I think we addressed some of the questions they had when we met earlier,” Jones said.

The county currently offers the Crenshaw County Board of Education Minority Scholarship that is funded by private funds, a scholarship that is for minorities who are currently employed in the system and who are seeking to complete their teacher certification.

“These are usually teacher aides, and we’re trying to help them to complete their certification,” Jones explained.

This $3,000 scholarship has been given for the last 4 years, Jones said.

According to Jones, Luverne School has 74 white employees, 25 black employees and one Korean employee. These numbers represent the total number of employees at the school, both certified and non-certified.

At Brantley School, the total is 77 white employees and 23 black, while Highland Home has 78 white employees and 22 black employees. These figures are for the 2008-09 school year.

“We’ve basically remained fairly constant in those ratios,” Jones said. “I believe we’ve hired six teachers for the coming school year, and three of those six are minorities. We’ve hired 10 total employees for next year, and 5 of those are minorities.”