Posted on October 10, 2011

Does Cleveland Schools Have a Diversity Deficit?

Jordan-Ashley Baker, Gaston Gazette, October 9, 2011

{snip} In a school system where one in three students is a minority, almost all teachers in Cleveland County Schools are white, according to school system records.

Cleveland County Schools employed 1,139 teachers for the 2010-11 school year. Sixty-two of those teachers are black, with five teachers representing other minorities. That means about 94 percent of teachers in the school system are white.


“It doesn’t make sense and it’s not logical that these numbers are skewed this way,” said Ron Harrill, a member of the diversity committee composed of community representatives and Board of Education members. The group reviewed and studied the school system’s employment data and presented its conclusions to the Board of Education at a recent work session.

Harrill told Board of Education members that the school system, as Cleveland County’s largest employer, needs to more accurately represent the county’s demographic makeup. The 2010 Census data shows Cleveland County’s population of 98,078 is 75.6 percent white and 20.7 percent black, with other minorities composing the remaining percentage. {snip}

“We think it’s shocking,” Harrill said. “We think it’s disturbing. We think it’s embarrassing for our county, because that’s just not who we are. … We do not think those numbers are 21st century numbers.”


Most black employees in the school system have jobs as service workers, such as cafeteria staff or janitors. Of the system’s 197 service workers, 47 are black.

“Our students need to see us more than just pushing out a garbage can or cleaning up a room,” said the Rev. Lamont Littlejohn, who also serves on the diversity committee. “I see us in leadership roles.”


“There is this myth that you can’t find qualified blacks. . . . I know we have qualified people in our dynamic county,” Harrill said.


The diversity committee asked the Board of Education at its work session to consider a tracking mechanism allowing the human resources department to track minorities applying for jobs.

“We’re working on developing our own application system,” Bridges said, adding that race could be an optional question for applicants so the school system has a better idea of how many minorities are applying for jobs within the school system.