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Black Students Return To Lamar County, Ga., Schools Precede BARNESVILLE, Ga.

August 26, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Black students in Lamar County, Ga., ended their three-day school boycott Tuesday after school officials agreed to meet with black leaders, but boycotts continued in Weir, Miss., and Natchitoches Parish, La.

The predominantly black boycott in Natchitoches Parish was a protest of court-ordered busing, while the other two boycotts concerned alleged racial discrimination in public schools.

Daily attendance since Friday has been down by about 150 pupils in three rural schools in south Natchitoches Parish, school superintendent Mike Whitford said.

The parents complained that their children would be bused too far under U.S. District Judge Nauman Scott’s order, but did not object to the goal of desegregation. The boycott was scheduled to end Thursday.

″The parents are very serious about it,″ boycott spokeswoman Linda Jones said. ″We’re not against busing. We’re against unfair busing.″

Scott met similar resistance from whites in neighboring Rapides Parish over another integration order of the late 1970s.

In Weir, Miss., the boycott called last week by a black parents group has begun to affect white-owned businesses as well as the school system, some business people said Tuesday.

More than 300 black students have stayed away from schools in the county since last Wednesday. But businesses didn’t begin noticing a drop in black customers until the last few days, said Vernia Brown at the R&S Quickstop restaurant.

″We had been having a good many blacks coming in,″ Brown said. ″But I haven’t sold a black nothing yesterday or today.″

Weir School Superintendent Ty Cobb said the school board hadn’t scheduled any new meetings with the parents group. A 40-minute meeting Sunday failed to bring the two sides closer together on a list of 20 demands made by the parents group, including the hiring of more black teachers.

About 38 percent of the students in the district’s five schools are black.

Attendance at the three Lamar County schools was almost back to normal Tuesday, said school superintendent Raymond Akridge. The boycott had begun Thursday, the first day of school.

About 900 of the system’s 1,100 black students had been absent Monday. The school district’s enrollment is 51 percent black.

Protest leader T.R. Bush, a retired Lamar County teacher and member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he decided to end the boycott and agreed to meet Wednesday night with the school board.

Bush said Lamar County has 37 black teachers and 95 white teachers this year. Black leaders said they have been trying to meet with school officials on this and other racial issues since February.

School administrators said 12 black teachers left the system last year and they have had a difficult time attracting qualified minority teachers.

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