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Schools chief rebuts NAACP discrimination charges


The county NAACP president's charges of discrimination in Harford's school system brought a detailed rebuttal from Superintendent Ray R. Keech, who labeled the charges groundless.

The superintendent issued a 12-page report after the president of the local NAACP chapter accused the school system of discriminating against minorities in hiring and promotions.

Local NAACP officials said they would reserve comment on the report, released at the chapter's regular monthly meeting Thursday night, until the next meeting in September.

The NAACP president's charges apparently did not have the chapter's unanimous support.

Percy Williams and George Lisby, NAACP members who are on the school board, said after the meeting that the superintendent's report proved what they had been saying all along.

"Harford County does not discriminate against minorities," Mr. Williams said.

The report urged NAACP members to get more involved in the school system by helping to attract more black teachers and providing black male role models for students.

The controversy began in late May when Joseph Bond, president of the county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sent a letter to state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. The letter listed 22 complaints against the school system, including charges that it "blackballed" minorities to limit promotions.

Ms. Grasmick has received the NAACP letter and is developing a response, said Ron Peiffer, a spokesman.

County school officials and local NAACP officials met behind closed doors two weeks ago to discuss the allegations. Both sides agreed to postpone further discussion until the written report was released.

At the Thursday night meeting, Edward P. Jackson, chairman of the local NAACP's education committee, said the committee would study the report and make recommendations to the organization at its September meeting. He also asked NAACP members to review the report and make written comments.

Mr. Bond, the NAACP president, said he could not comment because he had not had time to study the report.

Mr. Bond, in an earlier interview, said the NAACP decided to bypass the local school system and write directly to the state superintendent because the chapter believed in starting at the top.

About 5 percent of the county's 2,029 teachers and about 10 percent of its 34,000 students are minorities, are minorities, said Albert F. Seymour, school system spokesman.

In the May letter, the NAACP complained that the school system was not hiring enough black teachers. Mr. Williams, school board vice president, said the school system wanted more black teachers but that they were in short supply.

Minorities make up less than 8 percent of all the students who graduated with teaching degrees -- and were certified as teachers -- from Maryland colleges and universities during the 1989-1990 school year, the report said.

The NAACP also charged that few minorities hold administrative posts. The superintendent's report said 15 minorities hold administrative posts, accounting for 9 percent of the system's administrators.

Over the past eight years, the number of minorities in administrative and supervisory positions has risen from nine to 15, and 12 of the 15 have been promoted in the last four years, the report said.

The NAACP also charged that few minorities are promoted from within. Of the 15 minorities in administrative posts, 12 have advanced from within the school system, the report said.

The NAACP also claimed that minority students were disciplined differently from white students.

About 4.4 percent of black male students in the system received long-term suspensions last year, compared with 1.8 percent of white males. Among female students, 1.1 percent of blacks were suspended long term, compared with less than 1 percent of whites.

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