An independent committee of school parents asked the Montgomery County Board of Education last night to take steps to improve the achievement of black students, including hiring more minoriity teachers, letting impartial hearing officers decide on school suspensions, and temporarily halting the placement of students in special education classes.
In a 70-page report issued in August, the Citizens Minority Relations Monitoring Committee asserted that the county school system had fallen "significantly short" of providing a quality education to black students.
The report said blacks are more often suspended from school than other racial groups and are "herded" into special education classes without justification.
At last night's board meeting, committee Chairman James L. Robinson asked board members to accept his group's recomendations.
"If this effort is to succeed, you have to set the tone and offer support," Robinson said. "You have to let everyone know this is a long-term continuing effort and that it will not fade away overnight."
Board member Blair Ewing called recommendations "excellent." "We should take them seriously. They are the best and clearest and most helpful we've had from you or anybody else on the problem."
School Superintendent Wilmer S. Cody said the committee's recomendations would be passsed on to an in-house minority relations committee. "Most of the suggestions will be addressed," he said. "I think all of them are quite reasonable."
Since the release of the committee's report, Cody has announced a special effort to recruit more minority teachers and staff members.
That was one recommendation the committee made to board members last night.
Robinson also called on the school system to hire more minority teachers and staff members and begin training minority staffers to become principals or administrators and to review all suspensions made over the last five years.
The committee also suggested the school system immediately stop placing students in special educations classes. The report found that 25.8 percent of blacks are placed in special education classes even though they make up only 14.5 percent of the school population.