Several important and ongoing issues were dealt with during the November 8th meeting of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

At its last meeting in October, the Commission heard a complaint from the Connecticut Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People alleging racial discrimination within the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. After commission staff conducted an investigation of complaints received by the CHRO regarding DMHAS, the Commission voted on November 8 to hold a public forum on the issue, allowing these employees the chance to be heard regarding the situation. The date and location of the public forum will be announced shortly.

“We are grateful to the NAACP for bringing this situation to our attention and we look forward to a public forum as part of our efforts to reach a greater understanding of the issue,” said CHRO Executive Director Tanya Hughes.

At its November 8 meeting, the Commission also heard from the City of Waterbury regarding the City’s progress in implementing best practices in minority teacher recruitment and hiring. In April of 2017, the Commission concluded a year-long investigation into the recruitment, hiring and retention of minority teachers in the City of Waterbury. Though the investigation – which included two public hearings, the production and review of thousands of documents, and work with the State Department of Education – did not result in a finding of discrimination, the City of Waterbury and the Commission drafted best practice recommendations in order to address areas that needed improvement. As part of the agreement, the City agreed to keep the Commission updated on its progress. In this six-month progress report, the City of Waterbury told the Commission that it has established an advisory committee, revised hiring and interview guidelines, created several talent recruiter positions, held multiple Cultural Competency Trainings for school employees, and established Future Teachers Clubs in middle and high schools.

“We appreciate Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary updating the Commission on the City’s progress. There is important work to be done to ensure that staff and students in Waterbury schools are given the opportunity to work and learn in a fair environment, and we are happy to see Waterbury making progress to achieve that goal,” stated CHRO Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp.