[News] Black students ordered to give up seats to white children

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 24 17:38:14 EDT 2006


Black students ordered to give up seats to white children
Status of Red River Parish bus driver is unknown.
August 24, 2006

By Vickie Welborn
<mailto:vwelborn at gannett.com>vwelborn at gannett.com

COUSHATTA -- Nine black children attending Red 
River Elementary School were directed last week 
to the back of the school bus by a white driver 
who designated the front seats for white children.
The situation has outraged relatives of the black 
children who have filed a complaint with school officials.

Superintendent Kay Easley will meet with the 
family members in her office this morning.

The National Association for the Advancement of 
Colored People also is considering filing a 
formal charge with the U.S. Department of 
Justice. NAACP District Vice President James 
Panell, of Shreveport, said he would apprise 
Justice attorneys of the situation this week. 
He's considering asking for an investigation into 
the bus incident and other aspects of the school 
system's operations, including pupil-teacher 
ratio as it relates to the numbers of white and 
black children, along with a breakdown of the 
numbers of black and white teachers employed.

"If the smoke is there, then there's probably 
fire somewhere else," Panell said in a phone 
interview from New Orleans. "At this point, it is 
extremely alarming. We fought that battle 50 
years ago, and we won. Why is this happening again?"

Easley would not comment much on the allegations 
Wednesday, saying it is a personnel issue. She 
acknowledged that she has investigated the claim. 
And she confirmed that the bus driver did not run 
her route Wednesday, nor would she today.

Asked if the driver would work for the rest of 
the year, Easley said, "I'm not going to answer 
the questions. "» You're getting all that you're 
going to get from me. I'm sorry."

Red River Elementary School Principal Jamie 
Lawrence tried to rectify the seating situation 
when it was brought to her attention. But it was 
ultimately handled at the Central Office, Patricia Sessoms said.

Sessoms aunt, Iva Richmond, is the mother of two 
of the children, ages 14 and 15, and foster 
parent to three others, ages 5, 6 and 10. Janice 
Williams, who is the mother of the other four 
children, is Richmond's neighbor. All nine 
children catch the bus at a stop on Ashland Road.

Sessoms will join Richmond and Williams in their 
meeting with Easley today. Sessoms said they 
would ask for bus driver Delores Davis' immediate 
termination. Davis, who originates her bus route 
in Martin, has called Richmond to apologize, 
Sessoms said. A message left on Davis' answering 
machine late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

After Richmond and Williams filed complaints with 
the School Board, Transportation Supervisor Jerry 
Carlisle asked Davis to make seat assignments for her passengers, Sessoms said.

"But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she added.

And the nine children had to share only two 
seats, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps.

A new solution reached Monday by School Board 
officials has a black bus driver driving across 
town to pick up the nine black children.

"I think the whole school system needs to be 
reviewed in Red River Parish," Sessoms said.

Sessoms, who has two children at Red River 
Elementary, said she has no problems with her bus 
driver. "I have a wonderful bus driver," she 
added. Sessoms' request to have her young 
children sit near the front because of their ages was granted.

School Board member Gene Longino said Wednesday 
evening that he had not heard about the situation involving the nine children.

"I don't know anything about that. "» Until 
something formally comes to the School Board 
members through the superintendent, we don't know the details," Longino said.

School Board President Ricky Cannon was at work 
Wednesday evening and unavailable for comment. 
Board member J.B. McElwee also was not at home. 
Calls to the homes of Cleve Miller, Kassandria 
Wells White, Karen Womack and Jessie Webber were not answered.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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