School board member Keith Sutton wasn't happy last week at the apparent lack of diversity among the latest winners of the district's Employee Excellence awards.
Once a month, the school district honors employees, who've been nominated by their colleagues, at a school board meeting. Last week, 13 employees were recognized.
It was the first such ceremony for Sutton, who joined the board in August. After the ceremony ended and the employees left the room, Sutton said the winners did not appear to be a very diverse group.
"It's a stark recognition I saw tonight," Sutton said.
It appeared that only two of the winners were African American. For those who don't know, Sutton is the lone minority on the nine-member board.
Sutton said he couldn't hold back from voicing the concerns he had raised privately with Superintendent Del Burns. (After the awards ceremony, the board went into closed session and later returned to open session.)
Sutton said the winners were not representative of the diversity that Wake is expected to uphold.
But Sutton quickly added that he didn't want to take anything away from the winners.
School board member Ron Margiotta asked Sutton if he any ideas for improving the diversity of the winners.
Sutton responded that he didn't have any ideas at this time. He also acknowledged that it was his first time seeing the awards ceremony and that the winners may have reflected who was nominated.
Margiotta said he hadn't noticed the concerns Sutton saw of the winners.
School board member Patti Head said Sutton needs to hold judgment. While she said she hadn't done a personal study, she said they see lots of different people honored over the course of a year.
Head suggested holding off the discussion for a year after seeing who else is honored. (She'll be off the board by then.)