Classes were interrupted Tuesday at Greensboro Page High School for the second consecutive day, while school officials met with parents, students and members of the Greensboro Mediation Center.
By midday, parents and students had decided how to calm the situation at Page, where some black students have been upset since Jan. 26, when comments and a cartoon they considered racist were published in the student newspaper.The students decided to appoint a 24-member biracial committee to help resolve a list of concerns, including the number of black students involved in student council, cheerleading, basketball, academically gifted classes, the High IQ Bowl and the newspaper staff.
Black students have asked to have the school's constitution changed to give black candidates a better shot at being elected to student council. Now students have to have 50 percent plus one vote to win. The school is 57 percent white.
Parents set up a biracial committee to help address those concerns, and Superintendent John A. ``Pete' Eberhart has suspended publication of the student newspaper, Pages by Page.
The school system also has set up a telephone bank to answer questions from parents or citizens about Page. The phone bank numbers are 370-8307 and 370-8254.
About 60 black parents, white parents and clergy members met Tuesday morning with Eberhart, school Principal Robert Clendenin and Assistant Superintendent Mike Renn, along with staff members from the mediation center.Students remained in homeroom until the parents' meeting was over, about 10:30 a.m. Then black students met in the auditorium with Eberhart, Clendenin and Renn while white students remained in homeroom.
White students questioned why they were left out, so the three then met with white students in the gym. All meetings were over by lunch and students were expected to attend afternoon classes.
Demitra Smith of 1911 Weyland St., who has a ninth-grader at Page and has been involved in talks during the ordeal, attended the parents' meeting.
``What happened today was simply to say somebody's listening to you students,' Smith said. ``I don't think there is any one who is going to solve the problem in a day or a week. It's been a long term getting there, it'll be a long term getting out.'
Parent Linda Thomson said she wasn't aware a meeting for parents was scheduled and is upset all Page parents weren't notified.
``Nobody knows what's going on,' Thomson said. ``It's the unknown that has people in an uproar. And the kids are just having a heyday.'
Thomson said she thinks having separate meetings for blacks and whites was counterproductive.
``What's happening is the opposite of what needs to be done,' Thomson said. ``The kids don't want this. Blacks are getting some information and whites are getting some information. They need to get it all together.'
Both groups of students complained that only half the student body was present, according to written information released by the school system. No media were allowed to attend any of the sessions.
``I want the student group to have a chance to work through the concerns,' Eberhart said. ``They need to work through the issues that have emerged.'
Today, school should be back to normal, Renn said.
``All students will be expected to be in their appointed classes taking part in the learning process,' he said.
Black students have been in an uproar since the student newspaper printed the results of an anonymous student, faculty and administration survey on cultural diversity. Black students, incensed about a cartoon and comments from a teacher and a student, staged a boycott of classes.
On Monday, black students sat down in the school commons area and refused to move until Clendenin would meet with them.
Friday night Eberhart told school board members he had not personally gone to Page because he felt his presence would make the situation more serious.
Monday night Eberhart told black parents meeting at Metropolitan United Methodist Church that he would be at Page Tuesday morning.
``Mr. Clendenin was occupied with the students and parents and others were just sitting there,' Eberhart said Tuesday afternoon. ``I felt it was important for someone to work with the adults so Mr. Clendenin could be free to work with the students. I chose the assignment of working with the adults.'