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Lack Of Black Teachers Sparks Rural Georgia School Boycott

August 23, 1986

Undated (AP) _ A shortage of black teachers has triggered a school boycott in a Georgia district, and a boycott in a Louisiana district was called by black parents protesting the distances involved in court-ordered busing.

Civil rights leaders in central Georgia’s Lamar County claim the school district is running off black teachers, but school officials say they can’t find enough qualified black teachers to match the racial ratio of the schools.

T.R. Bush, a retired vocational teacher and member of the local NAACP chapter, said the black-white teacher ratio was nearly 50-50 14 years ago in Lamar County, where 45 percent or 945 of the students are black. Now, 28 percent of the teachers in the county’s three schools are black.

″I’d say it’s (the boycott) been very effective,″ said Lamar County High School Prinicpal Raymond Akridge in Barnesville. Some classes in his school had only a half-dozen students Friday. He estimated 90 percent of the black students stayed out of school Thursday and Friday.

U.S. Justice Department representatives have met with both sides. Bush and other boycott organizers claim the county has violated a 1972 court order on school integration.

Bush says all but one teacher hired this year were white.

Akridge said 12 black teachers left the system last year. Six retired, he said, three resigned to take other jobs or move, two left when their programs were cut due to low enrollment and one contract was not renewed.

″I don’t understand why we’re being singled out when there is a statewide problem getting black teachers,″ he said.

At Natchitoches, La., student registration was lower than expected at three schools involved in a five-day school boycott called by black parents protesting court-ordered busing.

″I think that it accomplished what we set out to accomplish,″ said Roberta Garner, spokeswoman for the parents. ″We wanted the school board to realize we meant business in what we said. This did let them know that we are serious.″

The black parents do not object to busing to achieve desegregation, she said, but to the distance their children were required to ride. Her son would have to ride 23 miles. She said the boycott continue through Thursday.

Earlier this year, the Natchitoches Parish School Board sought to relieve overcrowding within the school system by asking U.S. Direct Judge Nauman Scott to revise his desegregation order.

Scott modified attendance zones, in part by more fully utilizing Cloutierville High School and St. Matthew Junior High School.

Only 44 of the 192 students affected by the court order attended the first day of classes Friday.

Mike Whitford, superintendent of Natchitoches schools, said registration at other schools in the parish was close to projections. ″In our parish the enrollments don’t really settle down until the day after Labor Day,″ he said.

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