Pelham: Hire candidates with highest qualifications

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The Rev. AnThony Pelham

Many of you may know that recently the Lancaster County School District filled another top-level position entitled director of secondary education.

What many of you may not know is that of the three finalists interviewed for this top-level position two were minority females, who I think had more qualifications than the person selected for the position.

What you may not know is that two of these candidates hold Phd.’s from reputable institutions of higher learning and have a vast amount of administrative expertise and programmatic experience that would have potentially broadened the horizon of our school district and improved the plight of our children.

What you may not remember is that this is the same place we, as a community, found ourselves in back in May of 2005 when community leaders questioned the school district’s overlooking of qualified minorities for its top-level positions.

In June 2005, former superintendent Dr. Patricia Burns eliminated the position of deputy superintendent and created a position entitled executive director of planning and accountability. And so here we go again fighting a battle that should no longer need to be fought.

I feel we have a pattern that is counterproductive and unfair in our efforts to put our children first.

It is a process that is unfair to those who currently work for our school district. Unfair to those who have been faithful in their service, tenure, time and talents. It is unfair for them to watch others who have given less time, experience and gained fewer trainings and lessons learned for top-level positions within our district office.

It is unfair to minority candidates, who even in today’s society, have to work twice as hard educationally to be considered credentialed enough to be on the same platform with their majority counterparts.

It is unfair and unacceptable for these individuals to have to leave this community to gain the required education and experience and still be overlooked for top-level positions of which they are more than qualified for. Such practices send negative messages to our youth and future graduates from our community.

Many have already decided that upon graduating from college that they will not return to their hometown to share their gifts, talents and expertise. They have witnessed seeing others who having spent countless hours in graduate study programs and internships, accruing large amounts of student loan debt and experience, be denied upward mobility within our district.

It is unfair to our children, who deserve the best in leadership, and taxpayers, who pay large sums of taxes annually, so the hefty district level salaried positions are able to be paid.

It is about a continuation of the “good old boy” system. It is an issue of who you know despite what you know.

The citizens and taxpayers must take a stand and our school board, who has been elected by the people, owe us an explanation of why we are back at this same place again.

A meeting to voice your concerns will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church, 912 Clinton Ave.

For more details, call me at (803) 285-1075 or the Rev. Lorenzo Small Sr. at (803) 285-1661.


The Rev. AnThony Pelham is a Lancaster resident