DEI Hiring in K-12 Schools


K-12 school districts across the country have implemented policies or plans that base the hiring and retention of teachers and staff on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). This report features over twenty school districts from around the country that use ideological screening and race-based preferences in the hiring and retention processes. We obtained the non-public information needed to compile the list through public records requests.

  • The La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District (CA) states in its equity policy that “by June 2024, district and site staff shall fully implement the LHPUSD hiring policy and achieve an increase in the diversity of the workforce in at least 75% of new hires.” The district states that it will include a “diversity liaison” who is “tasked to pay attention to equity and inclusion throughout the search,” using “redacted statements of contributions to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion for the first round of screening” with the intent to “hire more faculty who would continue to contribute to diversity and inclusion efforts.”
  • San Rafael City Schools’ (CA) Together 2024 Blueprint sets a goal of increasing “the numbers of teachers, administrators and classified staff of color by 10% for all groups.”
  • Poudre School District’s (CO) hiring process mandates that the interview team include a minimum of two DEI focused questions such as “What does anti-racism mean to you?” and “Tell about a time when someone at work said something that is either a microaggression or was discriminatory/biased . [sic] What did you do to address this?”
  • The Connecticut State Department of Education suggests districts offer “incentives (e.g. gift cards, one-time stipends) for referrals of racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse candidates leading to a successful hire” and offer “incentives (e.g., pay increases, stipends, housing assistance, affinity groups) likely to attract racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse candidates to seek employment in the district.”
  • Community Unit School District 300 (IL) includes “Culturally Relevant Teaching” questions in the interview process such as asking applicants how they define diversity, how they create equity in the classroom, and “When was the last time you shared your pronouns? Why do you think it is essential to share your pronouns?”
  • Illinois Math and Science Academy (IL) implements a modified “Rooney Rule” in which the school requires “that every faculty opening requires interviewing at least two candidates who identify as a Black, Indigenous Person of Color.” The school also states that it will “incorporate best practices on diversity, equity and inclusion” in the hiring process which includes “critical race theory.”
  • Jefferson County Public Schools (KY) states that it will “attract, recruit, hire, and retain staff and leadership” that reflects the “diversity of the student body.” The district defines “diverse” as “pertaining to any and all cultures that are NOT heterosexual, male-centered, white, Western, and/or Christian.”
  • Orange County Schools (NC) states that by 2026, “100% of staff of color and LGBTQ+ staff will report feeling that Orange County Schools is a supportive, welcoming, and inclusive environment.”
  • Lower Merion School District (PA) intentionally selects candidates “who have an aptitude for diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve the school’s racial climate.”
  • University Place School District (WA) declares that the district will “actively recruit support staff of color,” but if the district is “unable to hire educators of color to open positions” it “still plans to emphasize cultural responsiveness and competence in the people we do hire.”

These common hiring priorities, often referred to as “culturally competency” or “cultural proficiency,” are used to justify the elimination of applicants who do not adhere to DEI and or social justice ideology.

Many of the districts surveyed claim in policy and/or in district literature that these measures are necessary to ensure a “bias free” process, while simultaneously using DEI language, DEI focused questions, and/or requiring that applicants provide a diversity statement. Brighton Central Schools (NY), for instance, requires that a diversity statement be provided that shows an applicant’s “past and current efforts, as well as, future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion” in the district.

Below is a copy of the interview questions in the Poudre School District in Colorado.

Of the districts reviewed, many mention that its hiring goals regarding the racial makeup of its staff should reflect that of the student population. Some districts even include set numerical targets to ensure adherence to its policies or goals.

For example, Rochester City School District (NY) states in its Racial Equity Action Plan that it will work to ensure its staff “reflect the racial composition of the student population.” The district’s action plan establishes a goal of a “10 percent year-over-year improvement in number of Staff of color hired.”

A third component is the implementation of DEI focused professional development and racial affinity groups aimed at improving the retention of teachers. In general, districts involve new hires in mentoring programming for onboarding and professional development purposes. Yet, many districts profiled in this report, like Orange County, North Carolina, offer new hires additional support and training based on minority status.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of school districts that have been found to engage in DEI hiring practices. Click on the district to view the related profile and documentation.

Flagstaff Unified School District

La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District

San Rafael City Schools

Santa Barbara Unified School District

Poudre School District

Connecticut State Department of Education

Community Unit School District 300

Illinois Math and Science Academy

Jefferson County Public Schools

Gorham School District

Baltimore County Public Schools

Cambridge Public Schools

Mason Public Schools

School District 622 – North Saint Paul – Maplewood – Oakdale

The School District of Clayton

Webster Groves School District

Brighton Central Schools

Rochester City Public Schools

Orange County Schools

Hilliard City Schools

Lower Merion School District

Norristown Area School District

South Kingstown School District

Seattle Public Schools

University Place School District

Resources for Parents:

Questions to ask your school about the DEI & hiring practices