2 jobs unfilled as class begins

Balto. County's offers for minority position, buildings slot rejected

August 29, 1999|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Despite Baltimore County's search for administrators to lead two sensitive, high-profile programs -- an effort to boost minority achievement and a $530 million school rehabilitation program -- both positions remain unfilled as schools open.

Barbara S. J. Dezmon, picked to be director of minority achievement, rejected the job, saying she had "moral and ethical concerns" over what she saw as a lack of support for the minority achievement position, the job's description and poor resources.

Change proposed

"Barbara is very good at what she does, and we want to be able to provide her the opportunity to excel without burdening her down with a lot of other things," Arnold said.

Arnold said he has asked Marchione and Massie to redefine the minority achievement job description in hopes of persuading Dezmon, or someone equally qualified, to take the job.

"Minority achievement is a very important issue," he said. "But we don't want to be setting someone up for failure."

One community activist interpreted Dezmon's decision as symbolic of deeper-seated problems in the school system, including a discrepancy in pay for minority staff members and a persistent gap in achievement between black and white students.

"It says to the public that there is trouble ahead and that what they will do is just find someone to stick in that job that will not be effective," said Ella Campbell of Stevens Wood, a retired Baltimore teacher. "It will be a position in name only and things will continue to be as they are currently."

But newly appointed board member James E. Walker rejected Campbell's theory, defending the board's efforts to narrow the achievement gap through tutoring in math and reading.

"We should pursue [filling the position] with all haste," he said, adding that the person who takes the job could be helpful in registering minority groups' views during the board's search to replace Marchione. "It's a key position," Walker said.

Pub Date: 8/29/99

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