As the Johnston County Public Schools district grows, administrators focus on equity for students

The student population at Johnston County Public Schools is growing and changing. The district is focusing on equity so all students get a fair shot.

And it starts at the top.

This month, the district swore in its first African American Superintendent, Dr. Eric Bracy.

"It's huge, historically, but what is just as important is having someone in that seat who is highly qualified and that's what he is," said Crystal Roberts, Chief of Equity, Information and Student Services for Johnston County Public Schools.

Dr. Bracy oversees a district of 37,000 students. More than 40 percent are of color.

The district's student population doubled in the past 15 years.

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The district developed work around cultural proficiency and diversity three years ago and renamed the department to include "equity" in the title last year.

Roberts, who leads the district's equity initiative, said the goal is:

"Ensuring that our students meet with success, all students meet with success, and in order to do that, we have to level the playing field for all," Roberts said. "Equity is not the same as equality."

Maritza Rosado, the principal at Selma Elementary, is the district's first Latina principal. Roberts said more than ten of the district's principals are of color. But only 19 percent of teachers are of color.

"We are on a road to continuous improvement," Robert said. "We understand and acknowledge that that number, that percentage, is not where we want it to be."

"We've always acknowledged that we need additional teachers of color but we are now laser focused on it and that's why we have an Equity department."

The Wake County Public School System and Durham Public Schools both have offices of Equity Affairs.
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