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Jews Underrepresented in School District; Hiring Bias Charged

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The Jewish Community Relations Bureau here has accused the Kansas City School District of “de facto discrimination” in the limited number of Jews hired for administrative positions in the school system. The charge was contained in a report submitted to the School District by the JCRB, an agency of the Jewish Federation Council. Irving Achtenberg, chairman of the JCRB, likened the situation to “executive suite” discrimination in industry. The report noted that only one Jewish person in the entire school district holds an administrative post and cited instances where Jewish educators have left the Kansas City school system because of “implications of discrimination against Jews in the behavior of certain officials.”

Sidney Lawrence, director of the JCRB, has requested an appearance at a meeting of the Kansas City Board of Education this week to present his agency’s study of de facto discrimination in the school district. School Superintendent Andrew Adams expressed concern with the inferences of the study and said he would bring it to the attention of those in the school administration directly responsible for recommending and hiring administrative personnel. The JCRB report urged the school district to adopt an aggressive policy of “affirmative recruitment” of qualified Jews as administrators, including going outside the community if necessary.

According to the report, there are 225 administrative positions in the Kansas City School District and some 2,900 certified teachers. But of these, only one elementary school principal, one supervisor and 24 classroom teachers are Jewish. “It is reasonable to infer from side remarks, rumors and the pattern of employment in the administrative set-up that something is working, perhaps unconsciously, against the employment of Jewish personnel in administrative positions.” the report said. “This would appear true on the basis of the availability of qualified personnel, but is certainly apparent on the basis of minority representation in a pluralistic school system and community.” The full text of the report was published in the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle Sept. 10.

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