Thousands Skipping School In Tyler Meant As Wake Up Call To District - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

05/05/04 - Tyler

Thousands Skipping School In Tyler Meant As Wake Up Call To District

It is a significant hold out of students in Tyler ISD. More than 2,000 students miss school. It was all an apparent protest by TISD parents against the re-assignment of John Tyler High School Principal Dr. Aubrey Todd. At John Tyler, the numbers tell the story. On a normal day, it usually has an attendance of 92%. Only 60% of students were in class today. Nearly 2,000 students are enrolled, so that means about 770 students were absent. At Boulter Middle School, attendance was at 40%. 460 students are enrolled there. So, that means 275 kids were out. They usually have an attendance of at least 92%. This afternoon nearly 100 people, many of them parents, came to a rally at a North Tyler church. Church leaders said they called the meeting in an effort to address the reasons behind today's absentees.

Anger and frustration ruled the day at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Tyler where the rally was held. A group of ministers representing the Tyler Area Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance say they are fed up with actions taken by TISD Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. The latest being the re-assignment of John Tyler Principal Dr. Aubrey Todd. While stopping short of admitting any direct involvement in coordinating today's boycott, the ministers said a plan of action was needed to stop what they claim is TISD's apparent discriminatory actions of arbitrarily demoting black males.

"Concerned citizens met time after time with the school board meetings," said D.C. Brown. "We met individually. The elected officials tried to meet with Dr. Simmons. The ministers tried to meet with Dr. Simmons. We tried every method possible. Dr. Simmons caused this."

With so many kids held from school, it is obvious, many parents share this frustration.

"So if this is what we have to do to make a stand for that to prove to them hey we're not going to allow you to do us any kind of way, to do our leaders any kind of way," said parent Nekaya Duffey. "You are going to listen to our community's word and take it at heart and do something about it, then this is what we'll do."

While no direct answers were given to how to resolve this situation, it seems the reinstatement of Dr. Todd would be step one. A meeting of some sorts with Dr. Simmons would also help. In the meantime, they hinted at future actions.

"Concerning what happened even today, is just one method that we are using to draw attention to the situation we are concerned with here," said Dr. David Houston. "And if this one, well, we got others."

"We're prepared to go as long as we have to go," added Brown.

Kevin Berns, reporting

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