To what end diversity?

With no persons of color on the town payroll, Brattleboro Selectboard grapples with remedies.

BRATTLEBORO—The most recent federal census data, from 2015, shows that in Brattleboro, 9.6 percent of the population identifies as persons of color: black, Asian, American Indian, Latin or Hispanic, or of more than one race.

But according to data submitted for the town’s Equal Employment Opportunity report, of the 191 full-time, part-time, seasonal, and on-call municipal staff, 100 percent are identified as “white/non-Hispanic.”

At their May 2 meeting, Selectboard members and Town Manager Peter B. Elwell began discussing the range of issues around the racial composition of the town’s workforce.

That conversation boils down to two questions: Is it okay that the town’s employees, including police and fire department staff, do not reflect the area’s racial makeup? And what, if anything, should town officials do about it?

The conversation started a few months before.

At the Feb. 23 Selectboard Candidates’ Forum, Curtiss Reed Jr., executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, posed the first question.

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