Montgomery County NAACP chairman Roscoe R. Nix, in a harsh attack, said yesterday that a letter from school Superintendent Edward Andrews to an NAACP official about a white teacher's assault on a black junior high student bordered on being racially inflammatory.
Andrews wrote the unusually angry letter earlier this week to NAACP official Eula Odom in response to her concerns about several interracial incidents at White Oak Junior High School in recent months. In the letter, Andrews reprimanded White Oak gym teacher Sharon Emond for forcefully grabbing a student who had cursed at her and used a racial epithet during an after-school softball practice. But he focused the bulk of his criticism on Odom, whom he said had heightened racial tensions by publicizing the incident.
"It appears that you are chagrined or angry . . . not because she told an untruth, but because she told the truth publicly," Nix wrote in a letter delivered yesterday to Andrews. "It seems to me the truth or falsity of that charge should be the focus of your response."
Nix was referring to Odom's remarks at a board meeting last week that three black students had been "physically attacked" by gym teachers at White Oak during the past year and that the school system had not taken appropriate disciplinary action. In all three cases, medical treatment was required.
Andrews, long viewed as an advocate of minority groups in the county, yesterday defended his investigation. He offered to meet with Nix and other NAACP members to resolve differences.
Last Wednesday, after conducting an investigation into the latest incident, Andrews said he found no pattern of racial discrimination at the Silver Spring school, where 29 percent of the students are minority. He concluded that the student provoked the teacher's reaction and went on to rebuke Odom's public disclosure of the incidents.
Andrews' remarks have caused some concern in the black community, and Nix's angry letter marks the first time in several years that the county NAACP has directly criticized the superintendent. Andrews, who will resign July 1, consistently has maintained a good reputation with the black community during his three-year tenure.
Andrews' White Oak investigation also has drawn mixed reaction from some school board members who say they have tried to improve relations with the black community.
Nix also said yesterday he has appointed a task force headed by Georgetown University Law Center assistant dean Everett Bellamy to help the NAACP advise parents who have complaints about physical abuse by teachers.