Equity and inclusion director for Fargo Public Schools to resign, department to be renamed

Tamara Uselman said the nature of the work she's done for the past three years shouldn't change under a new title for the department.

Woman with short blond hair and glasses speaks with hands clasped
Tamara Uselman, Fargo Public Schools director of equity and inclusion, drafted the district's proposed building renaming policy based on a policy enacted by Stanford University.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

FARGO — The first equity and inclusion director hired by Fargo Public Schools is resigning, and the department she leads has a new name.

The resignation of Tamara Uselman was expected to be heard during the Fargo Board of Education meeting Tuesday, March 28, and take effect on June 30.

While Uselman, 61, is stepping down from the equity and inclusion role, she’ll remain with the school district part time, mentoring new administrators.

She describes her job of the last three years as a challenge and an honor.

“I wish I was 10 years younger. I would do it for another decade without thinking twice,” Uselman said.


With her resignation comes a change in the name of the department she leads.

The Equity and Inclusion Department will now be known as the Educational Justice Department, a decision made by Superintendent Rupak Gandhi in consultation with Uselman, according to district spokesperson AnnMarie Campbell.

“The term Educational Justice more clearly describes the work of Fargo Public Schools and our current Equity and Inclusion Department,” Campbell said.

Uselman said the nature of the work shouldn't be any different under a new title.

When hired, she was tasked with administering diversity, equity and inclusion programs for the district, guiding employees in those programs and advocating for diversity, equity and intercultural competency.

While some people choose to put political connotations on that work, Uselman said she stays out of those battles.

If talent and intellect are spread equally across human populations and that’s not being borne out in outcomes, she said, something else is going on.

It’s important to identify barriers that keep some demographic groups from succeeding and remove those barriers — actions that don't harm or create barriers for those who are already successful, Uselman said.


“That certainly, in my mind, is part of the reason you would want to name it as educational justice, because who doesn't want their tax dollars to go into a system that creates just outcomes, where all students achieve?” she said.

Uselman, who is white, has led the school district’s Equity and Inclusion Department since July of 2020, a hire that drew criticism from local activist groups Black Lives Matter and OneFargo, who said qualified people of color applied for the job but weren’t interviewed.

Two days after the hiring was announced, the Fargo Human Rights Commission unanimously passed a resolution asking Fargo Public Schools to rethink the hire.

However, Gandhi, not the Board of Education, was responsible for the hire, and said he stood by the hiring process and decision.

Thirty-nine people applied for the position, which opened in June of 2020. An applicant's race, although requested, was not required to be disclosed and was not used as part of the hiring process, Campbell said at the time.

In her new part-time role, Uselman will be one of three retired administrators working for the district in a mentor capacity.

That position pays $30.62 per hour, Campbell said.

The annual salary for the new director of educational justice will range from $104,671 to $128,844.


Interviews are slated for late April, and the position will be hired for a July 1, 2023, start date, Campbell said.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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