March 29, 1995 in Idaho

School Protest Continues At Post Falls Black Mom Files Battery Claim Against School Official

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Post Falls mother has filed a battery report against school Superintendent Dick Harris during the second day of protests at Post Falls Junior High School.

Harris was befuddled by Inez Anderson’s charge. “I’m not sure what she’s referring to,” he said.

Some parents have accused Anderson of inciting students to skip school. Officials kept a low-key attitude Tuesday while urging students to return to classes today.

Anderson claimed that Harris had pushed her to keep her from entering the school Tuesday to see her son.

“I had to remove his hand. I said, ‘You don’t hit me like that,”’ Anderson said Tuesday from the school grounds.

Harris was monitoring the crowd at the school doors when suddenly the tension peaked, he said.

“All of the sudden, this big mass of people surged toward the door,” he said. “My hands may have been in front of me so I wouldn’t get smashed. I did not move. My back was up against the door.”

The junior high students started their protest Monday morning when they walked out of school. The students said they wanted to end racism and degrading language at school.

Anderson’s 13-year-old son, Faheem, said another student had called him a racial epithet on Friday and complained that the principal didn’t do anything about it. The Andersons are black.

Other students overheard the remark and were concerned that it would go unpunished.

Principal Don Boyk met with a group of students Monday and agreed to new rules for disciplining students who make disparaging remarks about others.

But Faheem and his friends were not satisfied, and about 40 or 50 students refused to attend class again Tuesday. Tuesday’s demonstration started indoors and had moved outside by midmorning.

They also want teachers to stop being insulting, they said. Though school officials said documented cases would be investigated, students wanted more specifics from their principal.

“He was not answering our questions,” said Drew Schooley, 13. “They wouldn’t let Inez in, so we went outside.”

Some parents suggested Monday that school officials should not allow Anderson inside the school, but administrators denied that they were trying to keep her outside.

“We’ve got some people keeping things stirred up,” said Bill Carrara, a parent who went to the school Tuesday to observe the protest. “I wish she’d take into consideration the kids’ education. My daughter’s not making good enough grades to be missing classes.”

Anderson said she expected some criticism.

“I expect people to say ugly and personal things about me. I don’t care. They need to get their facts straight,” she said, denying that she helped plan the protest.

But when a reporter asked students if they were ready to return to class, Anderson answered for them.

“No-o-o, by no means.”

Boyk allowed students to come indoors for lunch to avoid an exodus from campus for food. He later arranged an assembly for the student protest leaders to outline rules to the whole school on treating each other with respect.

By opening dialogue with the students, Boyk hoped to prevent a recurrence of the walk-out today. Students were told they should attend class or stay home.

“We listened with an open ear,” Boyk said after school. “We’re going to set the wheels in motion for communications. …I expect them to be in class tomorrow.”


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