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Charles County Public Schools hired 141 new teachers this year, increasing minority hires slightly.

The school system’s human resources department reported to the Charles County Board of Education on Nov. 13 that of the new hires, 26.2 percent were from minority groups, an increase of 4.4 percent from last year.

Staff said that 73 percent of new hires are white. Of the other races hired, black teachers represent just more than 19 percent, and Asian, Hispanic and Native American teachers represent just more than 5 percent.

According to information provided by the school system, 67 percent of the student population is from minority groups.

The school system breaks the races down by Hispanic, American Indian, African-American, Asian, Native Hawaiian, white and multi-racial. The largest population is of African-Americans at 52 percent.

According to information from the Census Bureau, minorities are 52 percent of the Charles County population.

Personnel specialist Sean McDonald said when it comes to hiring minority teachers, the school system is “trending in a positive direction.”

McDonald said the schools put a committee together last year to look at how the recruitment process works and think of ways to pool applicants with different backgrounds.

One of the most effective ways of increasing the number of minority applicants has been to focus on recruitment at historically black colleges and universities.

Charles County Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II (D) said in a later interview that it is important to acknowledge the school system’s progress in their attempts to increase minority hires.

He said the progress the school system is making is encouraging and that the challenge the school system faces is similar to that of many school systems, as so many are attempting to increase minority teacher populations and often in the same subject areas, such as math and science.

Janice Wilson, president of the Charles County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she also applauds the efforts of the school system in increasing its minority hires.

She said she has spoken with system staff and is aware that it is challenging to attract minority teachers to the system.

Even with challenges, she said, it is important to continue efforts to increase the numbers “given the demographics in Charles County and the increased numbers of minority students,” she said.

Just as important as increasing minority teachers, she said, is increasing teachers who are men, both African American and from all races.

“You need male presence in schools,” she said.

Of the new hires this year, 26 percent, or 37, were male.

McDonald said Maryland as a whole has low percentages in male teacher hires.

He said despite efforts by the state to attract men through programs and incentives, there were no significant increases.

McDonald said recruiters had success going to Delaware State University and speaking with students while they were still taking classes and pursuing their degrees.

Typically, recruiters have focused on seeking potential hires at job fairs.

Attending job fairs is still a practical way of recruiting, and human resources staff attended 36 fairs in 12 states and one virtual job fair, system staff said.

The majority of the new hires, 80, are from Maryland. The second highest number of new teachers, 26, come from Pennsylvania.

Of the Maryland hires, 28 graduated from a Maryland college or university.

There are 17 hires who also were graduates of Charles County public schools.

School board Chairwoman Roberta S. Wise applauded the department for increasing the system’s ratio of minority teachers and finding ways to continue that trend.

Board member Donald M. Wade suggested the school system seek assistance from local fraternities and sororities that are very active in the area, such as the Omega Psi Phi fraternity’s Tau Lambda Lambda chapter and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s Nu Zeta Omega chapter.

Wade said the school system also should reach minority students early, suggesting staff start identifying potential teachers in their second year of college and keeping track of them.

“We need to get up front,” Wade said. “School districts like Montgomery and Prince George’s County have a way of stealing [minority candidates] from us.”

gphillips@somdnews.com