Court Calls For School Hiring Plan
A two-and-one-half year dispute over affirmative action hiring in Cambridge schools may be winding toward conclusion, as a U.S. District Court judge last week ordered the School Committee to draft a specific written procedure for appointing administrators by March 2.
Judge Joseph Tauro ended a hearing on the committee's hiring of James Coady as master on the Morse School after learning that the process followed was not specified in any written document.
Coady's appointment in November spared complaints by minority parents, teachers and students that an agreement reached in September, which required that three out of four new teachers and administrators be members of minority groups, had been violated Coady, Currently acting master at the Morse School, is white, while the runner-up for the position is Black.
The controversy arose because the September agreement presents goals for affirmative action, but no specific guidelines for the hiring process.
The School Department's affirmative action coordinator resigned her position in protest of the Morse School appointment.
In court in November. Tauro issued a temporary injunction that barred the committee from making Coady's appointment final. Once a written procedure has been approved by Tauro, the School Department will advertise the opening for the Morse position again.
Tauro's order did not find that the School Committee had in any way violated their agreement in the appointment of Coady. "He just felt that the procedure should be spelled out," said Stephen Deutsch, the city's attorney.
According to Burt Giroux, director of public information for the School Department, the new hiring process will try to increase community participation in the selection of teachers and administrators. "It'll be a whole new process and all the options are open." he explained.
Twelve percent of current Cambridge teachers and administrators are members of minority groups, Deutsch said Friday. The School Committee is "shooting for 25 percent, a very ambitious goal," Deutsch added.
Until the goal of 25 percent is met, Cambridge Teachers' Association President Roland La Chance said, the School Committee has also agreed not to lay off any minority staff should budgetary cutbacks become necessary.