Community divided after 4J appoints Jim Torrey to board

The appointment of Jim Torrey to the vacant 4J school board position has the community divided.

Posted: Aug 9, 2019 5:55 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2019 7:21 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The appointment of Jim Torrey to the vacant 4J school board position has the community divided.

During Thursday's meeting, some community members called on the board to choose Maya Rabasa, one of the other finalists, and after Jim Torrey was appointed, many of them got up and left the meeting.

Those members say the board needs to diversify to better represent the Latinx members in our community, a community Rabasa is a part of. 

Torrey said he's bringing ideas to the board that he believes will bridge the gap between the board and the Latinx community.

RELATED: 4J SCHOOL BOARD APPOINTS JIM TORREY TO FILL VACANT POSITION

"I'd like to find a way to do, frankly, what they do in Minnesota," said Torrey. "The school district identifies leaders in each of these communities and they ask those leaders to hold meetings with people in that community and find out from them what those concerns are about what's happening in their schools."

There are 30,000 Spanish-speaking residents in Lane County, and some local groups say minority children are not being served in our schools or represented on the board.

"We have a large majority of our students of color shown through our town hall symposiums who have unfortunately internalized that they are not worthy and have become prey to the worthiness gap," said Imelda Cortez, Vice-President of the Eugene Education Association. 

Sabrina Gordon, president of the EEA, said that representation matters.

"Students need to see themselves and that diversity reflected in the people who are making decisions and creating policy that impacts kids," said Gordon.

She said everybody who works in education has intentions to serve our kids well, but she said the discrepancy between that intention and actions is where there's work to be done.

"We all need to be really aware of the biases and the filters that we bring, and we all need to be looking for opportunities to raise the voices of people who are traditionally under-represented at the table," Gordon said. 

Torrey will serve until June 2021. He told KEZI 9 News that afterward, it will be time for him to hang up his hat and try something new. 

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