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PARENTS CHALLENGE PTA HEADS NORTHWEST, WHITE MEMBERS DOMINATE COUNCIL, GROUP SAYS

PARENTS CHALLENGE PTA HEADS NORTHWEST, WHITE MEMBERS DOMINATE COUNCIL, GROUP SAYS

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About two dozen parents attempted Tuesday to rid the executive committee of the Greensboro city schools' PTA Council of what they called over-representation by white parents from northwest Greensboro.

The group of parents, some black, some white, nominated candidates from throughout the city to fill the vacant posts.The group lost. The new executive council elected Tuesday will have seven white women, who all live in northwest Greensboro, and one black woman.

But the group accomplished one of its goals, said Gladys Robinson, the council's third-vice president.

``We showed that there are people from throughout the city who are willing to serve but haven't been called on to do so,' said Robinson, who was ineligible for a third term but who will serve until the new officers are installed in May.

``They always say they can't find people,' Robinson said. ``That's just not true.'

Efforts should be made to involve all people in the PTA, said Stephanie Cashwell, president of Erwin Open School. In the city schools, 55 percent of the students are minorities.

``You assume that the nominating committee will come up with a balanced slate,' Cashwell said. ``When that didn't happen, I felt I had to do something.'

The PTA Council includes presidents and members of the PTA of each city school, as well as principals and representatives from the administration. The council is a governing body for each school's PTA.

Normally, election of officers to the council is simple, PTA President Pam Allen said. A nominating committee presents a slate of candidates to the group. Generally, those candidates are elected without opposition. Rarely have candidates been nominated from the floor.

But when the candidates were presented Tuesday at Brooks Education Center, five of the eight positions were challenged with nominations from the floor.

``I don't know what happened this time,' said Allen, who ran unopposed for her second one-year term as president. ``This was an attack on the present power structure and I don't know why.'

The candidates who were challenged were nominated for third and fourth vice president, secretary, treasurer and publicity chairman.

All of the challenged candidates on the formal ballot were white women who live in the northwest section of the city.

Four of the five challenge candidates were black: One was a man, and none of them live in northwest Greensboro.

``The executive board is meeting and making decisions and 80 percent of them live in northwest Greensboro,' Cashwell said. ``That's not my opinion. That's just fact.'

No challenge candidates were nominated for the top three positions on the executive committee, president and first and second vice president. The nominating committee nominated two white women and one black woman for those three positions.

Cashwell and Robinson both said the offer of challenge candidates wasn't a reflection on the type of job the candidates elected are doing or are expected to do.

``Without diversity, all views end up in one direction,' Robinson said after the meeting. ``We need people to represent the children in this city - all of the children in this city.'

Friction on the board seemed to mount after the executive committee passed a resolution last fall opposing the administration's plans to include grades kindergarten through fifth grade at all of the system's elementary schools and to redraw attendance lines.

The matter seemed to come to a head last month after three members of the group publicly criticized Superintendent John A. ``Pete' Eberhart for calling those opposed to the redistricting racist.

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