A job listing for a public school once specified race as a requirement.
But as a result of KCTV5's inquiry, the district is now changing the job description to eliminate the race requirement.
However, the posting still has many asking why the district felt the need for this position in the first place.
The achievement gap between white students and students of color is an element measured in all public schools both in Missouri and Kansas.
That is what Lawrence Public Schools were trying to address with the position of "Equity Teacher on Special Assignment."
"There are cultural differences that exist that we have to be aware of," superintendent Rick Doll said.
Doll said he wanted someone in place who can train the district's mostly white teachers to see beyond their own experience.
"Nobody walks into a classroom and says I'm going to purposely discriminate against students of color in the classroom, but we bring with us that whiteness. We are who we are," he said.
Doll explains that was why one original requirement for the position stated, "The candidate must be a person of color."
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in hiring based on protected classes like race, gender or religion.
But there are exceptions with gender, religion and national origin, like hiring for a religious school or for a job that puts a teacher in a girls' locker room.
"We were originally told that race also fit into this, that if you were going to hire someone whose primary purpose is to help us with our equity work, it's very valuable for that person to have had ... you know be a person of color," Doll said.
As for why the district would even need such a position, the superintendent says it was less an issue of need than commitment.
"We have looked at our data. We know that we have achievement gaps that we are rapidly closing. I would suggest those gaps exist everywhere, and we have decided that it's important for us to educate all children," he said.
Math scores over five years in the district show the lowest performing groups including African-American, Native American and Hispanic. However, all saw scores going up.
The highest performing groups, including Asian, white and multi-racial, showed improvement too, though a less steep increase.
The reading results are similar in that sense but with a slightly smaller gap and more fluctuation in the top three groups.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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