Monday, March 08, 1999
Forest Park hires under review
12 firefighters picked; black female rejected
BY MARIE McCAIN
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FOREST PARK The city Civil Service Commission is looking at its minority recruitment after an African-American was passed over in January.
The city hired 12 full-time firefighters/paramedics but not Pia Young.
Ms. Young, 29, says she was rejected in favor of two white males who ranked 14th and 19th in pre-employment tests.
The 14th was a firefighter from a department outside the city, while the 19th was a part-time firefighter with the city.
She ranked 12th out of 21 applicants, based on written, agility and oral exams.
Had she been hired, she would have been the second full-time firefighter in Forest Park who is not white.
Michael Washington, a Forest Park resident and friend, said the city decision was wrong. As diverse as Forest Park is, I don't understand why this is happening.
Mr. Washington is a full- time Cincinnati firefighter and part-timer in Springdale.
Residents would like to see more people who look like them treating them, Mr. Washington continued. People will be looking at the outcome of this.
City Manager Ray Hodges said he is taking Mr. Washington's concerns seriously and has asked him to participate in future fire department hiring initiatives.
Mr. Washington said he appreciates the city's invitation, but for now, is more concerned with Ms. Young's situation.
Ms. Young is a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician with Springfield Township and Woodlawn fire departments.
However, those are part-time jobs and she wanted the Forest Park position because it was full time.
Ms. Young was part of a group of outside firefighters and part-time Forest Park firefighters being considered for six of the 12 open positions.
She said answers to informal questions asked by Forest Park Human Resources Director Tye Smith apparently were used against her.
Ms. Young said those questions probed what she did not like about firefighting and past supervisors.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Hodges said the questions had no bearing on their hiring decision and although Ms. Young ranked higher after the pre-employment tests, the other candidates had at least five years more experience.
Further, they said, Ms. Young, of Springfield Township, rejected their offer of a part-time position.
The city manager agreed Forest Park must attract qualified minority candidates who want a civil service career.
We are not satisfied with the results, and we are convinced that we can bring about better results, he said. It has nothing to do with this particular individual. It doesn't suggest that merely because you are a minority, you will be hired.
We are not adopting that concept at all. There is still a level of standards and qualifications that we will maintain.
But if we cannot adequately attract (minorities) from outside, then we may have to do more to develop from internally. There are some other alternatives, and I am convinced we will bring about improved results.
The Civil Service Commission will reconsider the issue at its March 10 meeting.
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