The Montgomery County school board, which last summer angered many blacks by abolishing its Minority Relations Monitoring Committee, has been unable to attract enough volunteers for a new, revised version of the committee.
By late afternoon yesterday, the official deadline for applications, only seven persons had applied for nine openings on the new commission. Several of the applicants were black, board President Carol Wallace said, but there were no other minority applicants.
Still confident that the new committee "will get off the ground," Wallace said the deadline would be extended and that the board would solicit nominations from Hispanic, Asian, Jewish and black organizations to compose "one group concerned about the needs of all."
The lack of public interest in the board's new body, to be called the Minority Affairs Advisory Committee, appears to reflect the growing antagonism that minorities and some liberal whites in the county feel toward the board's conservative members.
Black leaders in the county have charged that any new committee would be a "puppet" of the board. Although Wallace sent letters to all members of the old committee inviting them to apply for the new one, none did so.
The old 22-member committee, which included 11 blacks, was disbanded in July, several months after it charged that the school board had failed to comply with certain minority relations guidelines.
Last month at a press conference, the leaders of seven black organizations urged Montgomery County citizens to boycott the new committee. Since then they have announced they will form an independent citizens' council to carry on the work of the old group. According to James L. Robinson, a Brookings Institution economist who served as cochairman of the old committee, 70 persons have asked to join.
Robinson said this week he "respectfully declined" Wallace's offer to join the official board committee. "I could not be effective in working with that board. The thrust of what people are saying is that citizens need to monitor this board, its conduct and its actions. We will have the freedom and license to be more critical and say what needs to be said. There is no need to be limited by the charge of the board."
Wallace said she had "serious reservations" about attempts to continue the work of the old committee independent of the school board. "They can do that, but what good is it going to do unless there is a dialogue with the board," she said. "To try to circumvent is not in the best interest of children. We don't need reasons to separate."
Board members who voted to abolish the committee said it no longer served a useful purpose because of the "confrontational" behavior that some committee members displayed in their dealings with the board.
Further, some members have said, the committee was too concerned with policies related specifically to blacks -- such as the "Black Relations Action Steps," guidelines adopted first in 1975 and then revised in 1977. Wallace said the new committee would show "concern for all minorities."
To the black leaders, the abolition of the monitoring committee was the latest in a series of actions by the school board that were signals of changing attitudes on racial issues.
The board, in the last two years, has cut back on funding for Head Start programs, done away with a course for teachers on human relations, and increased the percentage of minority students that a school may have before being forced to integrate.
Tensions between committee members and the majority on the board peaked last April when Blair Ewing, a dissenting board member who sympathized with the committee, revealed a letter written to President Reagan by four of the board members calling for an end to federal probes of civil rights violations in the county's schools. The committee members walked out.