TUKWILA, Wash. - The Seattle King County NAACP accused the Tukwila school board on Tuesday night of racist hiring practices.
Local NAACP president Gerald Hankerson said he’s fed up and wants to see drastic change.
“We have given you countless recommendations,” he said. “We have met with you on countless occasions, and you still don't seem to get it right.”
Hankerson said the organization has been meeting with the district for months to help it diversify its teaching staff.
He said members felt angry and excluded after attending a recent job fair in Tacoma with school officials.
“This is atrocious,” he said. “I actually consider it a civil rights violation and that's why I'm here.”
Superintendent Dr. Nancy Coogan said the district is committed to hiring more teachers of color to reflect the student body.
“I do take it personally,” Coogan said. “For me, my mission is to stand up for each and every child.”
Tukwila is the most diverse school district in the country.
According to a recent breakdown by Washington state, more than 30 percent of the district’s students are Asian or Pacific Islander; 27 percent are Hispanic or Latino; around 21 percent are black or African-American; around 14 percent are white and the rest are other races or ethnicities.
But when NAACP members went to the job fair with the school, they said the district interviewed only three out of 40 teachers of color.
“We had people in there, pushing people of color to the board, to give them interviews, which they were refusing to do,” Hankerson said.
They handed out some of the applicants' resumes to the board Tuesday night.
School officials said many of the applicants who did not get interviews did not have the appropriate qualifications.
But Coogan said she will take a look at the resumes the NAACP believes the board overlooked.
“I did get copies of those and I will be reviewing those tonight to see who else is in the pool that they brought to us,” she said. “Certainly willing.”
Tukwila school district spokesperson Sara Niegowski said out of job offers to 14 new teachers, seven are minorities.
Hankerson said the NAACP does not believe those numbers.