Data: Minorities in supervisory roles increased under Seidenwurm

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Central Baptist Church Pastor Alan McAlister spoke to the school board in support of Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm Tuesday during a special session.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Data kept by Clovis schools shows the number of minorities in administrative and supervisory roles has increased since 2005.

The data was presented to the Clovis Municipal School board of education during special meeting Tuesday to discuss the fate of Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm.

The special meeting was called to respond to accusations Seidenwurm is using discriminatory hiring practices.

Concerned Citizens of Curry County called for Seidenwurm’s removal.

According to figures released by the school, in 2005-2006 — the school year Seidenwurm was hired — 13 percent of administrators and supervisors were minorities. In 2009-2010, the number increased to 21 percent.

Seidenwurm said the numbers are part of data the New Mexico Public Education Department collects annually.

Longtime Clovis educator Lonnie Leslie presented the data to the school board prior to the board recessing into executive session for two and a half hours. Leslie requested the numbers from the district through the Freedom of Information Act.

“I was interested in seeing what the facts were and if minority administrators were increasing or decreasing,” Leslie said. “It is important for people to see the facts.”

Leslie pointed out that Chief Financial Officer Jose Cano is the second highest paid employee of the district behind the superintendent.

Leslie also discussed Seidenwurm’s children. He noted Seidenwurm has adopted an African American son and an Hispanic daughter and her natural-born daughter has recently adopted a child from China.

“That doesn’t sound like the pattern of a discriminatory person to me,” Leslie said.

Alan McAlister, pastor of Central Baptist Church, Mike McDaniels, and Charles Guthals also spoke on behalf of Seidenwurm.

Other city leaders including Mayor Gayla Brumfield, City Manager Joe Thomas, Clovis and Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos, Clovis Industrial Development Corporation Executive Director Chase Gentry, and City Commissioner Len Vohs attended the meeting.

Brumfield, a member of the CMS Education Foundation, said she attended in support of the district.

McAlister said he didn’t understand the allegations of discrimination based on his interactions with Seidenwurm.

“It seems like her heart is for all of our kids,” McAlister said. “I think we need to be having meetings to thank you. We’re all here to educate children and to do what is best for them and that’s all.”

Seidenwurm said she appreciated the support of the board.

“I believe the board has worked very hard to answer the communities concerns,” Seidenwurm said. “I think the board’s decision is a thoughtful way to balance community interests that are competing.”

The board did not remove Seidenwurm but made inspecting hiring practices a priority for Interim Superintendent G.C. Ross.