A local activist as well as a former teacher with Niles Township High School District 219 say there's a failure to hire and retain Black staff at the large suburban school district.
Niles Township High School District 219 serves nearly 5,000 students in Skokie, Lincolnwood and Niles. But Jason Foster, a former Niles West High School teacher, and the local NAACP leader say the district doesn't serve Black and Brown people.
"There’s a mindset that there’s difficulty finding quality Black people to work in the district," Foster said.
In January, educators, parents and students rallied outside the district's Skokie offices and demanded action amid allegations of racial discrimination.
Statistics from the Illinois State Board of Education revealed Black teachers made up 2.5% of the district's teacher population in 2020, which is up from 1% in 2011. White teachers made up 83.9% of its teaching staff in 2020, compared to 92% in 2011.
"For us, it’s simply not acceptable," said Michael Nabors, president of the Evanston/Northshore NAACP.
In a statement, the district acknowledged it has a lot of work to do so every member of its "school community feels welcomed and valued."
"We take very seriously the fact that students, teachers and staff members of color have told us we need to do better to combat racism in our district," the statement read. "We are engaged in a number of initiatives and programs to make our schools more equitable places to learn in and to work in."