A veteran educator has been hired to become the Lawrence Township Public Schools’ first director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – a newly created position that aims to help the school district to become an inclusive school community.
Clifton Thompson III, who began his teaching career in the New York City public schools and who also served as a principal and an assistant principal in northern New Jersey school districts, was appointed to the new job at the school board’s June 30 meeting.
Thompson’s first day of work was July 2. He will be paid $160,000 per year.
Thompson was appointed after an extensive and thorough process, said Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun. As a consultant, Thompson worked with school districts and colleges to improve practices with respect to equity, diversity and inclusion.
School board president Kevin Van Hise welcomed Thompson, who was sitting in the audience at the June 30 meeting.
“We pride ourselves and celebrate the diversity our community has,” Van Hise said. “As a board, we have spent several years really trying to get ahead and prioritize that, and you are the key component of that journey.”
In his new post, Thompson will be responsible for fostering equality, fairness and diversity across the district through community development – including creating, leading and supporting opportunities for involvement.
The director must have the ability to manage the personal, political and institutional dynamics related to diversity issues in the schools, and to have a deep concern and compassion for people, according to the job description.
Among Thompson’s responsibilities, as outlined in the job description, is helping to recruit, welcome and retain faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. He will develop and lead staff professional development sessions that address equity, diversity and inclusion.
He will also coordinate programs to educate faculty, staff, students and parents about issues related to equity and diversity.
Thompson will be the administrative liaison to – and provide support for – community groups, such as the Black Educational Advancement Council (BEAC) and the Lawrence Black Lives Matters groups.
Thompson will prepare reports relating to – but not limited to – participation in Honors and Advanced Placement classes by gender and race in order to provide an overview to district administrators, the school board and the community.
Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hampton University in Virginia and master’s degree in urban education, with a specialization in administration and supervision, from New Jersey City University.
He lives in northern New Jersey with his family.