A school board member's call to hire more “white teachers” is causing some concern in DeSoto ISD.

Trustee Jerry Hall made the public push, urging staff to hire more white teachers, during the School Board meeting on May 23.

“We need to hire more white administrators and white teachers,” Hall told staff.

Some residents and DeSoto ISD staffers are buzzing about the controversial hiring call.

"Honestly, I was embarrassed,” said former School Board Trustee Vandous Stripling, who was serving his last meeting as an elected School Board member that evening. “I was embarrassed and very disappointed.”

Vandous Stripling

The statement last month came during a conversation about funding for magnet programs. Critics of the comment say it is not the first time a couple of board members have publicly pushed for race-based hiring.

“We have to be honest about who we are. We are a 78.2 percent African-American student body school district,” Stripling said. “We hire those teachers who apply. If white teachers don't apply, we can't hire them."

According to DeSoto ISD workers, the staff is 21 percent white, nine percent Hispanic, and about 67 percent black.

DeSoto ISD

Trustee Hall would not agree to an interview about his statement.

“No comment. It is not worthy of that,” Hall said.

DeSoto ISD School Board President Carl Sherman, Jr. released the following statement:

“The Board has been contacted by several constituents (including teachers, students and residents) who are concerned about racially-charged statements made by individual board members at our May 23rd board meeting.

I cannot speak directly to why a board member would say that we need to hire more white teachers over teachers of color. Many of our teachers and community members were shocked and offended by those comments. While I will not speculate about the motive for making such statements, I can speak to the vision and sentiments of our collective body.

We have been intentional about putting systems in place to identify highly qualified educators to fill our classrooms, regardless of race. DeSoto ISD is committed to identifying and selecting individuals who can prepare our students academically and socially to be productive citizens in an ever-changing society. Let me make one thing absolutely clear: neither the Board nor the District will ever use racial quotas to drive our hiring decisions. We consider the qualifications of each candidate, not their ethnicity.”