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Published in Print: June 10, 1998, as Phila. Panel on Teachers Finds No Widespread Discrimination

Phila. Panel on Teachers Finds No Widespread Discrimination

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A special panel formed to investigate disciplinary proceedings against black teachers in the Philadelphia schools has found no evidence of widespread discrimination.

After a 10-month inquiry into 22 complaints related to teacher discipline and negative evaluations, the panel determined that "there is no basis to conclude that there is a pattern or general practice of targeting African-American teachers for disciplinary action."

However, in its report released at a school board meeting May 29, the nine-member panel chaired by retired federal Magistrate William F. Hall Jr. said that in nine cases "circumstances presented an appearance of racially motivated treatment."

The panel recommended that six of those cases receive further investigation. In the other three, the claimants had either requested no relief or there were other circumstances that eliminated the need for further investigation, the panel said.

The committee was formed last year in response to accusations that black teachers were being targeted by principals for disciplinary actions and unfavorable evaluations. About one-third of Philadelphia's 15,000 teachers are African-American.

In several cases, an improvement in the management skills of school administrators might have "lessened the need for disciplinary action or reduced the likelihood that such action would be perceived as discriminatory," the panel suggested.

Its report went on to recommend that the school system tighten the screening process for prospective teachers and enhance management training for administrators.

--KERRY A. WHITE

Vol. 17, Issue 39, Page 5

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