Hiring memo sparks controversy for Manatee Boys & Girls Clubs

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – A memo meant to promote more rigorous hiring standards within the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County has sparked a whirlwind of controversy.

The email in question addresses current job openings, and starts by saying that the organization needs to draw from a wider pool to strengthen the staff. The message goes on to describe the higher standards the organization is looking for as including people who did not have children when they were a teenager. It then goes further, saying potential candidates should not have tattoos, face piercings or deadlocks. Fans of wearing baseball caps, sweats or baggy shorts also need not apply.

Manatee County NAACP President Susie Copeland calls the memo insensitive and culturally biased. "I thought race relations had moved beyond the ‘60s," she says.

"If a person comes in with dreads, does that mean they’re not qualified for the job simply because of their hair choice? … If someone comes in who had a child at the age of 15, 30 to 40 years ago, does that mean that person is not qualified?” Copeland asks. “They can be qualified, but based on [this] memo they would not be hired. And so that's where the discrimination comes in."

We went to the Boys & Girls Club to find out exactly what was meant by the memo.

"My intent with the memo was to make sure we serve our kids in the best way possible because that is our mission," says Marc Dosogne, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County. He says he had good intentions in writing the memo, though he also understands the concern.

"I think there were some poor choices of words that do not reflect my character or what is in my heart," Desongne says.

Desongne says he wants the Club to help turn out the best men and women possible, and to do that he says the children should be afforded the best resources.

"I have such a passion for helping our young people succeed and open doors wide with opportunity, and it’s important to me that our staff our volunteers and the community can help them do that," he says.

But the apology may not be good enough for the Manatee County NAACP, which has called for Desongne's resignation.

"Club members are children from those families,” says Copeland. “[He or she] may wear dreads -- does that mean you don't want someone in there looking like the child?”