AVC HIRING PRACTICES CRITICIZED BY NAACP.
LANCASTER - Antelope Valley NAACP leaders are criticizing Antelope Valley College's hiring practices, saying they have received shocking and disheartening reports of racial discrimination.
As a state team is visiting the college to review its hiring practices and policies, the Antelope Valley chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is lending its support to three staff members who have filed complaints against the college.
Other African-American employees of the college have also claimed racism, but are afraid of retaliation if they make formal complaints, said chapter President Celeste Eckley.
``Discrimination, racism and injustices are alive and, from the complaints the NAACP received, exist here at Antelope Valley College,'' Eckley said.
AVC spokesman Steve Standerfer said the college had no comment on the NAACP's statements.
``At this point we don't want to engage in a public debate,'' Standerfer said. ``There's always another side to the story.''
Standerfer noted that the state team, from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, was already conducting a review of the college's hiring practices. The team is scheduled to complete its review today and a written report on its findings could be completed this fall.
``There's a great team doing a thorough review of our policies and procedures and we will wait for their findings,'' Standerfer said.
The timing of the team's visit was triggered by racism complaints, however, the review is not an investigation into racial discrimination, state officials said. Such a review had been planned for AVC last year, before the discrimination complaints were made public, but was canceled because a key human-resources position was vacant at the time, officials said.
The NAACP leaders voiced their concerns during a late afternoon press conference Monday at the college's flagpole. About 30 people, including students and AVC staff members, attended the event.
One of those in attendance was Toni Franklin, who said she was angry about the lack of minority hirings in the college's tutoring lab. Franklin said she is the only African-American female working in the lab and that there are no African-American males working there.
``That's a crime in itself,'' Franklin said of the lack of minorities in the tutoring lab. ``Students don't feel welcomed in there.''
In July, three AVC staff members went public with their allegations of racism at the college. Adjunct sociology professor Sallie Stryker, counselor John McDonald and library technician Sylvia Brown say they were denied promotions because of racism.
AVC officials said those complaints were reviewed by college staffers, the college's board of trustees, the Chancellor's Office general counsel, and state and federal equal opportunity employment agencies. In each instance, the cases were closed because of a lack of evidence.
The three AVC staff members said those findings were based primarily on what they termed a faulty investigation by a consultant hired by the college. The three staff members say the consultant overlooked relevant documents, including the college's diversity committee report about the lack of minority hiring.
After AVC staffers appeared in September before the California Community Colleges board of governors, Ralph Black, general counsel for the Chancellor's Office, was ordered to re-examine the discrimination complaints. An outside investigator will be brought in to review the cases.
In another matter related to the complaints, the California Assembly Select Committee on Community Colleges will hold a meeting at AVC on Nov. 21 to discuss diversity in faculty hirings throughout the state's community college system.
The AVC staff had requested that the committee hold such a meeting and had asked the committee to conduct its own investigation. The committee declined to investigate and referred the matter to the Chancellor's Office.
Eckley said the NAACP will be attending that meeting.