The New Bedford branch of the NAACP says city schools have a long way to go when it comes to establishing a diverse workforce.

The group today announced it has compiled a new report that reveals "disturbing data" showing that "little progress has been made" in hiring, promoting and retaining employees of color in the New Bedford schools over a period of 13 years.

Dr. LaSella Hall, president of the New Bedford branch, said the matter of diversity in hiring and retention at the schools is now "a crisis which, owing to its neglect for so many years, cannot be ignored a day longer."

Ninety percent of all teachers are white, while only 39 percent of all students are, the "Analysis of New Bedford Schools Staffing Data" report states. Ninety-six percent of all professionals in the district are white, and more than half of all African-American employees work in lower-level positions, the report asserts.

“The Superintendent has his work cut out for him," the report concludes. "(Superintendent Thomas Anderson) must begin using his own school district’s data…to begin addressing this crisis in staffing. And he must begin this task today."

Anderson today issued his response to the NAACP report. He said he agrees that more progress must be made to hire and retain staffers of color to better represent and serve the city's diverse student body.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media
Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

"The NAACP raises an excellent point and we have been in discussions on how we can work together for the betterment of New Bedford Public Schools," said Anderson. "The work to ensure that we have the highest quality staff and one that represents our student body has always been a priority for me throughout my career and during my two years here in New Bedford."

Anderson said he is committed to diversifying the schools' staff and ensuring inclusivity while improving district practices to hire and retain staff of color in all roles.

"I have always believed that every adult professional, no matter their position, has an opportunity for teachable moments that positively influence the education of our students," Anderson concluded.

Hall said that the NAACP requested the staffing data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education because their efforts to procure public information from the New Bedford School District fell flat. Hall said the group requested aggregate hiring and firing data from the schools more than a month ago, with no response, so went straight to the state for that information.

However, school district spokesman Arthur Motta said today it's not true that the NAACP's requests for public information were ignored. Motta said that Heather Emsley, Executive Director of Human Capital Services, today notified Dr. Hall that her office indeed “sent the information from the initial request on or around July 30” as well as a cover sheet and a second letter asking clarifying questions.

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