A year ago, the Palm Beach County School Board created the District Diversity and Equity Committee. Fittingly, the board required membership to represent diverse groups. Ironically, it represents so many groups that it can’t function.
As The Post’s Jason Schultz reported Monday, the committee has met only twice and couldn’t muster a quorum. Some of the 24 groups have not filled their slots. The school district has a number of advisory committees providing useful comment about school construction, boundaries and finances. Most are significantly leaner than the Diversity Committee. Though they all deal with complicated, important issues, none has a task quite so…squishy.
Policy says the Diversity Committee will “assist the Board and Superintendent in receiving feedback from the District’s stakeholders and in assessing progress towards diversity and equity in academic, administrative and operational programs of the District.” It also will “identify culturally competent attitudes, behaviors, skill sets, and policies of an effective multicultural organization” and identify “constraints or challenges that affect the District’s ability to achieve diversity.”
There’s much more, but you get the flavor. The board created the panel in response to the Hispanic Education Coalition’s complaint that the ethnic makeup of school employees doesn’t jibe with the student population. For example, about one-third of students are Hispanic but, at the start of this school year, fewer than 9 percent of the 228 principals and upper-level administrators were Hispanic.
Anti-discrimination laws, of course, forbid the district to hire administrators simply because they are black or Hispanic. And the committee is forbidden to advise on specific personnel decisions. It is tempting to think that the school district created the committee to avoid a problem rather than to solve it, but — since we’re talking about equity — the organizations that were supposed to provide committee members bear equal blame.
We don’t know if the committee can provide concrete guidance because the committee hasn’t tried. The district should ask the organizations to quickly nominate members. Cut membership to those that respond. Cut further if members miss meetings. Diverse members need to share one trait: Showing up.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
for The Post Editorial Board