Haverhill Forms Diversity Committee to Encourage Minority Teacher Recruitment: ‘We Need to Do Better’

Haverhill Latino Coalition President Ismael Matias spoke in support of the formation of a diversity committee to encourage teacher recruitment. (WHAV News photograph)

Members of Haverhill’s Latino Coalition are among the locals cheering the recent formation of a Haverhill Public Schools’ Diversity Committee, created with the intention of encouraging minority teacher recruitment.

The School Committee last Thursday voted unanimously to form a task force to hire educators of color, with members Scott W. Wood Jr., Gail M. Sullivan, Maura Ryan-Ciardiello and Richard J. Rosa among those taking the lead to do so. They’ll be joined by volunteers from the Latino Coalition and the Haverhill Education Coalition, along with other community members to draft a plan of action and report back to the School Committee within 90 days.

Latino Coalition President Ismael Matias leaned on Wood to bring attention to the issue affecting 37 percent of city students. “We believe this diversity committee should and can make concrete plans to find and hire more qualified teachers of color, especially Latinos. Given that there are only three Latino teachers for over 2700 students,” Matias said.

Pointing to a “tremendous under-representation of our Latino community,” Mayor James J. Fiorentini was happy to support the committee’s formation. “We need to do a better job,” he told Matias and the 80 members of the Latino Coalition gathered for the Aug. 15 School Committee meeting.

Sponsoring the item was a no-brainer, Wood said.

“The population in Haverhill has changed dramatically and many of our students are simply going into the building and just not seeing anyone that looks like them and that’s just not the way it should be,” he said. “That’s not a problem unique to Haverhill, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to do better.”

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