Posted on January 9, 2019

JCPS Board Passes Racial Equity Plan, But Changes Are Likely Coming

Kevin Wheatley, WDRB-TV, January 8, 2019

The Jefferson County Board of Education unanimously passed a racial equity plan Tuesday that aims to cut the achievement gap between white and black students, promote a more diverse teaching staff and improve access to district programs for minority students.

The push for racial parity in Jefferson County Public Schools comes as it faces a persistent achievement gap between white and black students and disparities in disciplinary actions like suspensions, of which minority students have made up 77 percent so far this year, according to JCPS data.

Among the plan’s goals are:

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  • Increasing teachers of color from 16 percent to 18 percent by 2020 and administrators of color from 31 percent to 36 percent in the same timeframe. That would mean 128 more minority teachers and 31 more minority administrators on the district’s payroll.
  • Identifying more minority students for gifted and talented programs, from 38 percent to 43 percent by 2020.
  • Boosting minority enrollment in magnet programs from 52 percent to 55 percent by 2020 and in advanced courses from 39 percent to 42 percent by 2020.
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JCPS passed a racial equity policy May 8.

Pollio told the school board that {snip} suspensions have declined throughout the district by 20 percent this year, with the disproportionality between white and black students down.


Some, however, criticized the plan’s goals for not going far enough.

Chris Harmer, chairman of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, asked the board to table Tuesday’s planned vote and instead offer a bolder vision of equity in the district. He also said JCPS should invest more than the $2 million minimum, as detailed in the racial equity plan, for initiatives geared toward minority students.

He called that amount “impossibly small” to address equity gaps in JCPS, particularly considering the district’s $1.7 billion budget.


In an attempt to resolve the shortage of minority teachers, the school board voted to approve an agreement between JCPS and Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically black institution, to help recruit newly graduated teachers.

Pollio said JCPS is developing a summer program to offer alternative certifications for Simmons graduates. That, he said, will lead to Simmons graduates in JCPS classrooms this fall.

“We expect this collaboration to produce hundreds of teachers that will become JCPS teachers,” he said. “We know that a high percentage of African-American teachers in this country went to an HBCU (historically black college and university), and we know that fortunately we have an HBCU right here in this community, and we believe that this collaboration is going to be one of our main ways to reach our goal of diversifying our teaching staff.”