13 black leaders have left one Rock County school district; board member says it’s no coincidence
BELOIT, Wis. — David Wilson believes there’s a culture of systemic racism within the School District of Beloit that’s causing educators and leaders of color to leave.
On Tuesday evening, he brought the issue before the rest of the school board at a special meeting.
“I said my piece and I expected some sort of response back,” Wilson said. “There was little to none.”
During the meeting, Wilson read a Facebook post that listed the names and positions of the 16 black leaders who have either been demoted or left the district within the past year.
As he began to read the list, he was interrupted.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I wasn’t going to stop talking,” he said.
Wilson said the issue of race runs deep within the district. He said ultimately, what the district is doing is a matter of keeping black educators away from growing into positions of power.
That’s how many leaders of color have left the school district of Beloit in the last year.
— Adam Duxter (@News3Adam) August 15, 2019
“It’s not about calling people the N-word,” Wilson said. “It’s about not allowing them to serve in those positions or opportunities that it’s said, ‘I don’t think he or she should have that’.”
Board President Pam Charles was unavailable for an on-camera interview but said in a statement:
“The board hired a very capable and qualified superintendent to lead our district, and we made it quite clear throughout the superintendent interview process that we have one primary focus — student achievement. The board will support Dr. Munro in his decisions and hold him accountable for results.”
Wilson said inaction by leaders like Charles and Superintendent Dr. Stanley Munro is one of the driving forces behind the issue.
“It’s a dangerous position for a person with biases such as those that they can hide behind policy and say. ‘We’re doing this for the best interest of such-and-such’,” Wilson said. “Then behind closed doors, individuals that are in this class of people out of opportunities or positions of leadership.”
Munro, who began his tenure in July, also denied the opportunity to be interviewed on the subject but said in a statement:
“As we begin a new school year, student achievement is our focus and will remain our focus. This district is about educating our scholars at the highest levels and preparing them for this 21st century economy so that they can compete and be productive citizens in society.”
Wilson said Munro and Charles’ unwillingness to address the issue of race doesn’t surprise him.
“You don’t talk about things you don’t want other people to know about,” he said. “You don’t invite people into your house until you’ve cleaned it up.”
He said ultimately, until changes are made, the cycle will continue.
“Until we start to have the tough conversations about race and how that impacts education and achievement, just opportunities for achievement, we’re going to have the same kind of conversations,” he said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that Pamela Charles was unavailable for an on-camera interview the day it was requested, rather than denied an interview request.
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