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Blacks Boycott Schools Over Minority Hiring, Busing

August 23, 1986

BARNESVILLE, Ga. (AP) _ More than 800 black students in Lamar County boycotted classes for a second consecutive day Friday to press demands for the hiring of more minority teachers.

About 45 percent or 945 of the system’s 2,100 students are black, while 28 percent of the administrators and teachers are black, said Lamar County Superintendent Raymond Akridge.

″If I had to guess, I’d say probably 90 percent of the black students are out,″ Akridge said of Friday’s boycott. About the same number of black students were out Thursday, the first day of public school in the county 60 miles south of Atlanta.

Akridge said he had not met with any black representatives, although ″we see a willingness on their part to talk.″

Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and concerned parents have been meeting with U.S. Jutice Department officials over the issue.

Protesters believe the school system is violating a 1972 court order to desegregate Georgia’s public schools, said T.R. Bush, a retired teacher and member of the Lamar County NAACP chapter.

But Akridge disagreed.

″There are counties in Georgia with much worst teacher ratios than we are able to show,″ said Akridge. ″I don’t understand why we’re being singled out when there is a statewide problem with getting black teachers.″

Bush said the residents want county officials to form a faculty recruiting team made up of both blacks and whites.

″The biggest problem, to me, is the insensitivity of the administration toward minorities,″ he said. ″I’ve heard this thing about the scarcity of qualified blacks. That’s not true.″

In Natchitoches, La., meanwhile, most pupils boycotted classes Friday in a protest of court-ordered busing led by black parents.

Only 44 of 205 students attended the first day of classes Friday, said schools superintendent Mike Whitford.

Boycott spokeswoman Roberta Garner said parents did not object to busing to achieve desegregation, but to the distance their children were required to ride. She said her 14-year-old son was to be bused to Cloutierville, 23 miles away, rather than to Natchitoches Ninth Grade Center, which is closer.

U.S. District Judge Nauman Scott, who ordered the busing, met similar resistance from whites in neighboring Rapides Parish over another integration order in the late 1970s.

Nrs. Garner estimated from reports she had received that at least 25 children did not attend the first day of class.

School system officials did not have immediate attendance figures, but superintendent Michael Whitford warned parents that a prolonged boycott could violate state law.

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