South Pasadena Unified School District’s top administration remains largely homogenous in ethnic diversity, despite a dramatic transformation in the district’s student population during the past decade.
While Asians became the district’s largest plurality in 2009, none of the district’s most visible administrators, which constist of the five principals and superintendent, are Asian. In addition, the single Asian school board member was voted out of office in November.
SPUSD’s student body has no ethnic majority. The largest ethnic group is Asian, with 33.7%, followed by Caucasian students at 29.6% and Hispanics at 24.4%.
“My personal belief is that the more diverse a community, the stronger it is,” Superintendent Geoff Yantz said. “I think that [our population] is very strong and representative of many cultures and ethnicities.”
The most visible administrators and school board, however, are considerably less diverse. All five school board members are white, as is the superintendent, along with three of the five principals of the district’s schools. The two other principals are Latino.
It is also worth noting that there are few principal positions, and that the turnaround time for these limited spots
is slow. School board members are chosen in city-wide elections. As for non-elected school administrators, Yantz said that ethnicity does not play a role in district hiring decisions.
“We hire the best person for their position,” Yantz said. “There is absolutely no discrimination, we hire purely on the merits of their experience, qualifications, education backgrounds, and their references.”
Diversity has sparked discussion in educational circles. Protests at several universities have sought to widen representation among educators and administrators. Although the issue has not drawn much controversy in South Pasadena, some students have noted the disparity between their classmates and the people who run the district.
“I think that the demographic of the school board and administration positions should reflect the demographics of South Pasadena,” junior Anthony Chen said. “I think in the future as people resign and retire, higher emphasis should be put on accurately reflecting the demographic of the city.”
Yantz said that there is more diversity in the district than meets the eye, citing the assistant principals at the middle school and Marengo as well as the Director of Technology, as reprsentatives of the Asian demographic..