School board concludes no bias against staff members of color who have left the district

The Woodburn School Board announced the results of an independent investigation into the school district's employee retention at the monthly school board meeting on Oct. 16, concluding that the district followed all district policy, collective bargaining agreements and law relating to employee departures over the course of the past three years.

The statement issued by the school board brings an end to an investigation that began in May after more than 50 parents and students attempted to speak at the Woodburn School Board meeting April 5, demanding an explanation for the resignation of Woodburn High School's Wellness, Business and Sports School teacher and basketball coach Ryan Slider, who resigned March 1 after vocal supporters allege he was told his contract would be non-renewed.

Parents and students were unable to voice their concerns about Slider's resignation due to a policy enacted by the board in January prohibiting mention of individual staff members during public comment.

Students were particularly upset that Woodburn had lost a teacher of color, which they said was important as it reflected the demographics of the school.

But the investigation compared data from the Oregon Educator Equity Report with that from the Woodburn School District, and the school board confirmed that there was not a disproportionate number of teachers and administrators of color leaving the district compared with the district's workforce.

The investigation found that 28.31 percent of the district's staff over the past three years were people of color, and in that span 25.45 percent of those teachers left the district.

On the administrative side, 33 percent of the district's administrators over the past three years were people of color, 27.27 percent of which left the district in that time.

Although the school board concluded that data showed no particular bias against teachers and administrators of color leaving the district, they directed the superintendent to review current human resource procedures and implement new procedures to implement staff appreciation initiatives and collect feedback from departing employees in an effort to help improve employee retention.

The school board concluded its official statement by noting its desire to both recruit and retain employees who closely mirror the student body's diverse demographic and to continue investing resources to fulfill this part of the district's strategic plan.

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