A committee appointed by the Montgomery Board of Education to monitor the effect of the county's educational policies on minority students is charging the school board with refusing to discuss the needs of those students.
"Our experience with the board has led us to the conclusion that the board has put minority students' needs on the back burner. We have found that when the board deals with the minority community, it displays an educational policy which is bankrup . . . Its commitments are more political than educational; its style is confrontal rather than compromising, adjusting or accomodating," the Minority Relations Monitoring Committee said in a statement this week.
The dispute began in April when committee members walked out of a school board meeting after hearing that four members of the board had written a letter to Secretary of Education Terrell Bell, complaining about an Office of Civil Rights investigation of Montgomery County student suspension policies. The letter said, "This investigation appears to us to be a 'fishing expedition' or at the least an overzealous application of rules and procedures."
"We were shocked. We didn't know anything about that letter. It was an insult," said Gladys Young, cochairperson of the committee.
The committee sent a letter to the Board of Education two months ago, asking the board to clarify its relationship with the committee and for a statement of policy regarding the letter of complaint to the secretary of education.
Young said the board did not reply.
The committee called this week for a public meeting with the school board. Board president Carol Wallace, in response to a question at the board meeting Tuesday, said a meeting with the committee was on a list of items to be placed on a future agenda.
The problem areas the committee is asking the board to address include: low test scores among black and Hispanic students, a disproportionate school suspension rate among minority students, the number of minority school counselors and of minorities in curriculum-development positions, and the low number of minority students in the gifted and talented program.