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Study Found Faculty Race Relations Deteriorating

June 12, 1987

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) _ Racial tensions have increased at a high school because of a perception that black students have received preferential treatment, a special committee study found.

The four-month study at Newton North High School was initiated after a Feb. 4 altercation between white students and black students from Boston who attend the school under a busing program.

The results of the study, released by Mayor Theodore H. Mann on Thursday, pointed out a comment made by School Superintendent John Strand last fall that black student achievement was a priority.

Some black students thought the remark was ″an embarrassing and inappropriate reinforcement of negative stereotypes of blacks,″ and some white students ″were angered by its implied special treatment for black students,″ the report said.

It said recent racial tension ″appears to be rooted in part in the perceived special treatment″ for students in the program, creating resentment among students, parents and teachers, and ″a sense of entitlement and-or poor self-esteem″ for some students in the program.

The altercation occurred when four black students took several marijuana cigarettes from an alleged drug dealer, who was white, to prevent them for being sold to other students.

Most faculty members and administrators interviewed ″believe that the racial climate among faculty members has deteriorated in recent years,″ the study found.

″Some black and white faculty members have become isolated from one another, with many no longer frequenting the faculty lounge,″ the report said.

Mann played down that aspect, saying it was based on talks with few of the approximately 145 teachers.

But, Joseph D. Warren, community affairs director at Northeastern University and co-chairman of the study committee, said the six teachers interviewed were believed representative of the entire faculty.

Committee recommendations included expanding interracial activities for students and teachers and stricter and uniform application of discipline.

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