Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bus Driver Makes Black Kids Sit In Back

A Louisiana school bus driver forced nine black elementary school children to sit in the back of the bus, while designating the front seats for white children, according to a published report. Angry relatives of the black children have filed a complaint with school officials. The children were attending Red River Elementary School in Coushatta, La. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is considering filing a formal charge with the U.S. Department of Justice. "It is extremely alarming. We fought that battle 50 years ago, and we won. Why is this happening again?" NAACP District Vice President James Panell, of Shreveport, said in an interview. Superintendent Kay Easley refused much comment on the allegations Wednesday, calling it a personnel issue. The Times reported that Easley did acknowledge an investigation into the claim and confirmed that the bus driver did not run her route Wednesday or Thursday.
Schoolchildren make their way to the buses after classes at Red River Elementary in Coushatta, La.
The school's principal, Jamie Lawrence, tried to fix the seating on the bus after she found out about the segregation, according to the newspaper's report. But the issue ended up being handled by the district's central office. Some family members said they are calling for bus driver Delores Davis' immediate termination. One family member, Patricia Sessoms, said the bus driver called one of the mothers of the black students to apologize. Sessoms said that after some family members called the central office to complain, the driver was ordered to make seat assignments for the students. "But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she said. The nine black children had to share the two seats in the back, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps. After hearing that, the school board ordered a black bus driver to drive across town to drive the nine black children to school. "I think the whole school system needs to be reviewed in Red River Parish," Sessoms said.