11/23/06 — Duplin County School will tackle minority recruitment

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Duplin County School will tackle minority recruitment

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 23, 2006 8:18 AM

KENANSVILLE -- With the Duplin County Board of Education holding its last business meeting in its current form, not many decisions were made Tuesday night, but there was a lot of information discussed -- even if board members Graham Phillips and Johnni Blackwell are stepping down Dec. 4.

Topping the list was an issue that's occupied the board's time each meeting for the last several months.

Making its third report, the Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee outlined three specific goals that it is planning to work toward.

"Goals are things you want to accomplish," said Dr. Candace Turk, associate superintendent for human resources and operations. "We've only begun to address recruitment. We have not yet begun to address retention."

The first goal is to hire enough minority candidates to allow minority representation in every grade level of every Duplin County school.

"That's a large goal," Ms. Turk admitted.

But, she continued, it's also one district officials feel is not out of the question.

To reach that goal, the committee is recommending that each school's staff mirror the student population and that principals be required to give hiring priority to candidates who mirror the student population. It also is recommending that schools with the greatest need for minority candidates receive priority placement.

"It's about representation," Ms. Turk said. "It's not just about minorities. We're doing what's best for the general public."

The second goal, she continued, is to implement a "Grow Our Own" technique to bring Duplin County students back to the school system to teach.

"We believe it's important to grow our own," she said.

Implementation of such a goal, she continued, would focus on recruiting local students beginning in middle school. It also would include the development a cohort of minority teachers to help mentor and encourage minority students.

Tied to that, Ms. Turk continued, is the third goal, which is to develop a Duplin County-sponsored scholarship program to help high school students, community college students, teacher assistants and others receive their teaching certificates in exchange for a committment to Duplin County Schools.

In the past, she said, there was a similar program, but it has been defunct now for several years.

Still, it did experience some success with at least one current teacher in Duplin County having come through the program.

The board also was presented with information regarding school uniforms, but decided to table any real discussion of the matter until its curriculum meeting Nov. 28.

Several board members did, however, indicate an interest in the issue.

"I think it's something we need to talk about very shortly," board member Willie Gillespie said.

If a new uniform policy is to be implemented this year, officials continued, a decision will have to be made by February -- likely with the help of the two new board members, Jennings Outlaw and Chuck Farrior. Currently, the school system operates with only a dress code.