Clipped From The Daily Reporter
Southern School Boards Continue to Resist Desegregation Efforts By KEN HARTNETT Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal Office of Givll Rights Is encountering renewed resistance by Southern school boards to its desegregation efforts. A source close to Ruby G. Martin said the resistance was a factor In her decision to refuse re-appointment as director of the civil rights office. Dr. Lloyd R. Henderson, act- Ing director of the Office of Civil Rights, said 220 districts-the heaviest number since 1965 tvhen enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was still young —face possible hearing for noncompliance. "A good many may come into compliance before hearings are scheduled," he said. The 220 districts, most of them in South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, were among 340 asked last August to submit plans for "terminal" desegregation. The other 120 districts have complied. In contrast, similar letters went out to 317 districts in January and February of 1968, and all but about 50 complied, Henderson said. The Nixon administration offered Mrs. Martin, a Democrat appointed to head the Civil Rights Office by President Johnson, a pay increase to stay on, but she declined. She left the government Friday, and Henderson, another Johnson appointee, took over as acting director. * Mrs. Martin, who Is a Negro, said only that she felt she could do more for her race outside the government. The informed source said, however, that she was apprehensive about GOP campaign statements which she Interpreted as indicating to the South that the Republicans would move more slowly on desegregation. Her apprehension was heightened, the source said, by statements made by Secretary Rob- ert H. Finch of the Department of Health, Education and Wei- fare, which administers the Of. flee of Civil Rights. Finch, while emphasizing that he would enforce the law, has distinguished between segrega* tion and discrimination, has said he was reviewing desegregation guidelines, and has been critical of some HEW agents for "overzealousness" in enforcing desegregation. Both Finch and President Nixon have referred to a cut off of federal funds to non-complying districts as "the ultimate weapon." The source said that Mrs. Martin felt the reference was unwise because some districts might be led to believe they have more time before an "ultimate weapon" would be used against them. Henderson said part of the reason for the slow response to the August letter was "the districts we're dealing with now are in many respects tougher." "A lot have a majority of Negro students and It frightens the school officials, who fear de* segregation will mean creation of private school systems." The acting director, said part of the problem was "confusion" over federal desegregation standards, including an unsuc- cessful attempt last year in Congress to sanction "freedom of choice" desegregation plans. The source close to Mrs. Martin said she believed desegregation momentum would be lost "for at least a year" unless there is "a clear statement or some very clear actions." Less than 10 days after taking office Finch cut off federal funds to five Southern districts, but gave them 60 days of grace to work out an acceptable desegregation plan. One has since filed a plan approved by the HEW. Finch took tougher action Feb. 13, cutting off federal funds to three districts while making no provision for a grace period. * The secretary has said he would follow a policy "consistent with the interpretation the President repeatedly expressed in the campaign." He cited remarks made by Nixon Sept. 19. At that time, Nixon said, "When the Office of Education goes beyond the mandate of Congress and attempts to use federal funds not just for the purpose of avoiding segregation but for the purpose of integration in positive ways—busing and the like^with that 1 disagree. And I do not. believe federal funds should be used for that purpose" Nixon again referred to the Issue at a Feb. 6 news conference when he said; "If freedom of choice is found to be simply a subterfuge to perpetuate segregation, then funds should be denied to such a school system. If a freedom of choice plan, however, is found to be one which actually is bringing an end to segregation, then a freedom of choice plan, in my opinion, is appropriate and should receive funds."