If you are black and you were among the hundreds of eager parents who stood in that long line on March 21 at Largo High School in hopes of placing your child in one of the 10 magnet programs offered by the Prince George's County Public School System, and your child was accepted, then count your blessings.

If you lived in Prince George's County earlier this year, you probably were sent a yellow brochure, which had a picture of a red apple on the cover. The brochure depicted one of the finest public school programs in the country.

Little did you know that these programs were not geared for black students but were set up as a way to entice white parents to send their children to predominantly black schools and thereby satisfy a court-ordered desegregation requirement. But you were tempted by the apple -- just like in the story of Adam and Eve. And many black parents ate of the apple by standing in that long line to submit applications and were later punished with denial notices from the magnet school office. We were punished by the court-ordered desegregation guidelines.

There's no test to take and no grade point average to qualify for the magnet school program. If a white student lived next door to you with a 1.0 grade point average and your child had a 4.0 grade point average, your child's chances for admission would be slim because he or she is black.

I am for the magnet school program, but not for the reasons it was designed. I am bewildered, and it's appalling how the magnet program's implementation process got past our esteemed black leaders in Prince George's County.

MELVIN W. FIELDS Glenarden