Cowardly school board

Threat: Anne Arundel panel gave comfort to those who would rule through intimidation.

April 10, 2000

WE MAY never know - really know - why the Anne Arundel County school board overruled the superintendent's decision to temporarily transfer predominantly white Mayo Elementary School students to predominantly black Annapolis Middle School.

But it sure looks like the board may have blinked in the face of hostile bigotry. Is it possible that this decision had nothing to do with the racist death threat sent to superintendent Carol S. Parham? The board must explain its decision.

This was the plan: The Mayo Elementary student body would occupy an empty wing of Annapolis Middle for two years while a new Mayo is built. This was more efficient than another alternative, which required costly portable classrooms at a closer but fully used school. A land swap across the street from Mayo is now being studied.

Mayo parents complained publicly that the Annapolis Middle solution required a long bus ride. That's a fair point. But parents gladly send their children on long rides to private schools. Similarly, Mayo Elementary is a National Blue Ribbon school that's worth the trip, wherever it is located.

Even worse, there was behind-the-scenes resistance. Some people object to sending white kids where black kids are. The hateful letter to Dr. Parham emerged from this poisonous environment.

The good people of Mayo deserve credit for offering a reward for information that would help county police and the FBI track down the writer of this screed.

So why did board members back down? They must explain why they postponed a decision on Ms. Parham's practical plan. Otherwise, they leave county residents with the impression they knuckled under to a racist death threat.

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