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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Malverne school budget sparks racial dispute
(Page 3 of 4)
Herald File Photo

“It’s important that children of all races have people that look like them in their life — not just at home, I’m talking about all aspects of their life,” Reed said. “The real issue that we have is that we need to sit down, all of us, and have a real conversation. Why is it that we don’t have any minority teachers [in] positions that are getting tenured that look like me and my children and everybody else who’s currently not sitting here?”

Superintendent Dr. James Hunderfund later told the Herald that the district has hired many black staff members since Besson — who, along with two other black educators, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against high school and district administrators in 2011, alleging that white employees were treated more favorably. Hunderfund said that those hires included eight administrators and one high school guidance counselor. He explained that the district adheres to state mandates when deciding on faculty cuts, which he said would be felt in every department next year due to limited state funding.

“Our perspective is that we have to follow the law, which says if there’s cutbacks, the least senior person in that department … needs to be let go if you reduce the number of teachers you need,” he said. “If you’re the last hired, you’re the first out — you can’t pick and choose.”

Hunderfund also said that black students comprise 60 percent of the district’s student body, and that administrators have strived to recruit black educators from a very small pool compared to other schools, noting that only 2 percent of the teachers that are hired on Long Island are black.

As of press time, the Herald had not received a response to an inquiry for records detailing faculty hires in recent years.

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