Pflugerville ISD outlines efforts for increased diversity, equity hiring initiatives among staff
The April 1 conversation follows a March 4 board meeting during which several parents spoke out about the lack of Black teachers at Riojas Elementary School, as well as concerns regarding greater diversity and equity initiatives at Pflugerville ISD. (Screenshot courtesy Pflugerville ISD)
In the 2020-21 school year, 58.3% of PfISD teachers identified as white, compared to 21.7% Hispanic teachers and 13.6% Black teachers. Comparatively, data from the 2016-17 school year reported PfISD comprised of 64.4% white teachers, 23.7% Hispanic teachers and 7.1% Black teachers.
“In several different areas, we’ve made quite a bit of headway," Watson said.
When discussing diversity and equity initiatives, Watson said a central goal remains to create an academic environment where teacher and staff demographics mirror those of their students. While improvements have been made districtwide within the last several years, Watson said efforts are still needed to increase the hiring of Hispanic, Black and Asian candidates.
In the 2016-17 academic year, white teachers made up 64.4% of PfISD, compared to a white student population of 23%. PfISD's Hispanic student population amounted to 48.6%, versus 23.7% of teachers identifying as Hispanic. Black students, making up 16.3% of the student population, more than doubled the 7.1% of Black teachers. With a 7.7% Asian student population, 1.5% of teachers were Asian.
In the 2020-21 school year, white teachers made up 61.2% of PfISD, compared to 22.9% of district students identifying as white. Hispanic students comprised 48.2% of the district's population, versus a teaching population identifying as 25.6% Hispanic. Black students amounted to 15.41% of the student population, nearly double that of an 8.7% Black teaching population. There are 8.29% Asian students in PfISD, compared to 2.2% of teachers identifying as Asian.
The April 1 conversation follows a March 4 board meeting during which several parents spoke out about the lack of Black teachers at Riojas Elementary School, as well as concerns regarding greater diversity and equity initiatives at PfISD.
PfISD parent Yolanda Miller returned to the April 1 board workshop to address trustees, asking for more thoughtful dialogues and concrete efforts surrounding diversity and equity initiatives.
"I beg of you to look into diversity, equity and inclusion, and seek an officer for Pflugerville ISD," she said.
August Plock, president of the Pflugerville Educators Association, said that students and the district both benefit from diverse and equitable staff demographics that more closely mirror the student population.
At Riojas Elementary, demographic data from the 2016-17 school year noted the district's new hires comprised of 70.1% white staff and 29.9% Hispanic staff. In the 2020-21 school year, white employees made up 64.9% of new campus hires, 33.8% identified as Hispanic and 1.4% were Asian.
Superintendent Douglas Killian said that in order for the district to reach a place of substantive diversity among its employees, it needs a more diversified leadership team as well.
"If you have a more diverse leadership group, you're more apt to hire diversely," he said.
Trustee Jean Mayer addressed several concerns she has heard from community members regarding the lack of diversity at Riojas Elementary and said specific focus needs to be on diversifying the campus hiring committee to help prioritize these efforts.
"I don't want to breeze over the fact that Riojas is in pain right now," she said.
Watson said he has had conversations with Riojas Elementary's leadership team and concerns surrounding campus diversity. Included in the biannual campus climate review are assessment questions related to diversity initiatives, he said.
Watson said PfISD's human resources department has restructured its recruitment efforts to help bring in educators from under-represented backgrounds, as well as increasing the department's presence and engagement online. Hiring recruitment efforts include recruiting from institutions such as the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators and historically Black colleges and universities.
The district was able to place two Black student teachers on Riojas's campus in January, staff said April 1.
As the district heads into its next recruitment and hiring phase, Killian requested the HR Department work with campuses that have substantive diversity concerns and have an active role in the hiring processes. When a hiring committee lacks diversity from campus staff, he added the campus should work with Parent Teacher Organization members to help make a more diverse and equitable committee.