By MARGARITA SWEETING
Special to South Florida Times
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho promised the implementation of what he called “policies, procedures, and practices,” that would address recommendations made by community leaders after an audit of a recent disparity study.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami was optimistic that Carvalho’s commitment would move the school board in a positive direction.
“We have a reason to celebrate,” said Fair. “Not only are we elated over the recommendations that are being implemented by the school district, but also for the mature, legitimate, and respectable manner in which our community addressed issues of equity, fairness, and access.”
The presentation came after the Committee for Fair Access and Equitable Distribution of Public Contracts, a committee established by the Urban League, the NAACP, and the BAC Funding Corporation, made a list of 15 recommendations after reviewing the results of the disparity study. Carvalho agreed to 12 of them looking for most to come to fruition within a four month period.
“It’s a viable time frame if he’s serious,” said Ron Frazier, CEO of the BAC. “The administrative part should be done in 30 days because it doesn’t need board approval. The policy part is what could take 60 to 90 days because it has to go before the board for a vote.”
Carvalho assured committee members that he is moving forward with his role in these initiatives and expressed a willingness to work together.
“We presented valid concerns to Superintendent Carvalho, and he responded in a way that was respectful, and demonstrated his willingness to work together toward a mutual and fair resolution,” said Fair.
Carvalho said he’s “actually embraced the robust conversation in the community about historic inequities perhaps not created by us but up to us to solve.”
One of the key ways he said this could be done was through verification of sub payment information. According to Carvalho, there needs to be inspection, monitoring and compliance. So, the Office of Economic Opportunity has already crafted a compliance and monitoring system that will provide real-time data reporting on workforce compliance.
Additionally, M-DCPS has agreed to reinstate the Minority/Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program. The plan is to bring the policy before the school board as early as November with final approval as early as December.
Meanwhile, “We’re going to have a hybrid M/WBE program which shall observe racial and gender goals specific to contracts,” said Carvalho.
Other recommendations included implementation of an anti-discrimination policy and program related to contracting, procurement, bonding, and financial assistance; a diversity and inclusion policy for procurement; open channels to community dialogue; and community partnerships. Everyone present at the meeting saw open lines of communication as an integral part to forging change.
“The superintendent was receptive and encouraged positive dialogue without a hint of hostility. As a result, community issues have been brought to the forefront and we have worked cooperatively to develop the right and fair approach to positive change,” said Fair.Working together, Carvalho added, “is especially important to me because we cannot do this alone. We must rely on community partners to position the members of our community with the right skill set to enter or re-enter the workforce.” At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, a commercial anti-discrimination diversity and inclusion training resolution passed in first reading with the caveat that any training meet state requirements.