After 177 parents signed a letter asking the Las Lomitas Elementary School District to try to add some diversity to its teaching staff, the district will discuss its efforts in recruiting minorities at an April 13 school board meeting, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the La Entrada MUR, 2200 Sharon Road, Menlo Park.
The meeting agenda has been posted. Superintendent Lisa Cesario said she will give a report about the district's recruitment efforts for the 2016-2017 school year. The public will be given a chance to comment and offer suggestions, she said.
The parents' letter, sent in February, points out that although the district has 38 percent non-white students, it has far fewer non-white teachers.
"We would like to see the educators and administrators who inspire, inform, enlighten and advocate for our children reflect the spectrum of diversity in our classrooms and community," the letter says.
Statistics gathered by the parents from the California Department of Education show that the Las Lomitas district has only 9 percent non-white teachers, the least diverse of any neighboring district except Woodside Elementary School District, which also has only 9 percent non-white teachers.
The statistics show in the 2014-15 school year that in their middle and elementary schools, the following districts had these percentages of non-white teachers: Los Altos School District, 20 percent; Palo Alto Unified District, 19 percent; Menlo Park City School District, 19 percent; San Carlos School District, 17 percent; and Portola Valley School District, 10 percent.
San Mateo County as a whole had 26 percent non-white teachers and the state of California as a whole had 35 percent non-white teachers, the statistics show.
After the letter was sent, school board president Christy Heaton responded that the district had recently reviewed its hiring practices and the report, prepared by the district's attorney, Eugene Whitlock, a San Mateo County deputy county counsel, had concluded, "our hiring processes comply with all state and federal laws; that we are an Equal Opportunity Employer; and that our recruiting practices and procedures are exemplary."
In March, the district sent a response to the parents' letter, signed by Superintendent Cesario and all the school board members: Christy Heaton, John Earnhardt, Richard Ginn, Diane Honda and Bill Steinmetz.
The district is "actively engaged in recruiting and retaining a high-quality, diverse staff," the letter says. It lists a number of places where the district recruits teachers including colleges with teacher training programs and job fairs.
The letter says the district teaches all its interviewers about "unconscious bias to ensure that our hiring committees do not allow personal biases to prevent qualified candidates from being hired."
The letter says that its efforts "have placed Las Lomitas above surrounding school districts in the breadth and depth of our hiring practices."