EDITORIAL: York County School of Technology should keep equity coordinator position

York Dispatch
  • Carla Christopher recently resigned as equity coordinator at York County School of Technology.
  • Christopher assumed the role shortly after a racial incident at the school garnered much attention.
  • Christophoer will pursue a masters of divinity from United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg.

The York County School of Technology boasts the most diverse student population in the area.

“Boast” being the operative word.

After all, diversity in our schools is something to be celebrated, not feared.

Carla Christopher thanks students at York County School of Technology during an assembly celebrating Diversity Week, Thursday, May 4, 2017. The assembly included testimonials from students about their experiences as immigrants, attempting suicide, and race issues. Christopher recently resigned her position as the school's equity coordinator. John A. Pavoncello photo

As the only local school of its kind, York Tech (as it is commonly known) draws students from every corner of York County.

There are teens of varying races, religions, economic classes and sexual orientations.

In such a situation, a clash of cultures is always a concern.

Racial incident: The school, unfortunately, has not been immune to such clashes, including one incident that garnered unwanted national attention during our heated presidential election in 2016.

The day after the election of Donald Trump, a video taken inside the school showed a group of students walking through the halls holding a Trump campaign sign, with some saying “white power” in the background.

Crisis team to be on-site at Vo-Tech Friday after reports of harassment

Allegations then emerged from some minority students at the school, claiming they had been dealing with harassment throughout the campaign and that administrators turned a deaf ear to their concerns.

A crisis team responded, protesters took to the streets and even Gov. Tom Wolf weighed in.

Christopher hired: A couple months later, the school administrators took a giant step toward addressing the issue when they hired well-known community activist Carla Christopher for the newly created position of equity coordinator.

In the months that followed, Christopher instituted several initiatives to make the school a more welcoming place for all students.

By all accounts, it seemed to be working.

York Tech: 'We've come a long way'

During a diversity celebration in May, she declared the school had “come a long way.”

Christopher resigns: Now, however, Christopher has resigned her position to pursue a masters of divinity from United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg. She was awarded a generous scholarship and said it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

Equity coordinator resigns at York Tech

The school’s director, David Thomas, said he was sorry to see Christopher depart, adding the school climate had significantly improved during her tenure.

“The kids will miss her,” he said.

Her work must continue: Yes, she will be missed, but the school administrators must make sure that her work does not stop.

Christopher offered to continue working at the school on a part-time or consulting basis, but the school turned down the offer.

Two members of the school’s Joint Operating Committee, Lois Ann Schroeder of York Suburban and Darvin Shelley of Eastern York, said they hope some form of the equity coordinator position continues at the school. Christopher, not surprisingly, feels the same way.

Role shouldn't fall to budget cuts: Let’s hope the school administrators continue the position. In these tough economic times, it would be fairly easy to cut the position in order to trim costs, especially now that things at the school seem to have calmed down.

That would be the wrong move.

Christopher helped to build bridges while at the school. In the absence of someone like her, however, it likely wouldn’t take long to see those bridges collapse from neglect.

That is something the school simply can’t allow to happen, because left unattended, the clash of cultures at Tech could get very ugly, very fast.

After all, it’s happened before.