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Dallas District Hires Head-Hunting Firms In Hopes of Recruiting Minority Teachers

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Unsatisfied with its track record in the recruitment of minority teachers, the Dallas school system has hired two personnel-search firms to help it find more black and Hispanic instructors.

The district, Texas's second-largest after Houston, is offering to pay the head-hunting firms a $1,450 bonus for each teacher hired who lasts more than 90 days.

It has also beefed up an in-house recruitment program, according to Estanislado Paz, the associate superintendent, and will encourage competition between the district's personnel search and that of the private recruiters.

Dallas's unusual bounty program may become a model for other school districts, Mr. Paz predicted.

"If they are serious about recruiting minority teachers, they have to do something more than the routine," he said. "I'm not sure this is the answer, but it's a bold step forward."

Like many other school systems, Dallas has found itself unable to recruit enough minority teachers to meet both its need for role models and the guidelines of a desegregation court order, Mr. Paz said.

Last year, the district's 132,000-student enrollment was 50 percent black and 30 percent Hispanic. But its 7,700-member teaching force was 37 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic.

The district's goal, as outlined by the court overseeing its desegregation suit, is to increase the proportions of minorities in the teaching force to 43 percent black and 12 percent Hispanic.

Last year, the school board was approached by an executive-search firm, Mr. Paz said, but at that time state law prohibited the district from using public funds to pay private companies for employee recruitment.

A recent change in the law allowed it to solicit bids and sign an agreement with two firms in January.

Under the new minority-recruitment plan, officials will pay each of the firms $30,000 up front, according to the associate superintendent. Each firm will have as a goal recruiting 150 black and 150 Hispanic teachers within a year, he said, for a total of 600 new employees.

The district has agreed to pay an additional $1,450 for each teacher hired who stays at his or her job for at least 90 days. Mr. Paz said that search firms usually receive about 10 percent of a new hire's salary, but in this case, the companies have agreed to work on a volume basis at a reduced rate.

In addition to its outside effort, the district in January hired two new employees charged with creating an in-house minority-recruitment center. Mr. Paz said that recruitment "territory"--to include school districts and universities nationwide--has been divided up between the public and private recruiters.

At the end of December, the district will evaluate the results of the private and in-house efforts to see which was more successful, Mr. Paz said.

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