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Dallas Cancels Meeting in Face Of Gun Threats

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The Dallas school board canceled its meeting last week after members of a protest group threatened to show up armed with guns.

The threats came after three members of a group called the New Black Panther Party were arrested at a May 23 board meeting after disrupting the gathering and refusing to sit down, a district spokeswoman said.

Members of the group reacted by saying they would march outside the June 11 meeting with loaded weapons to protect themselves from police, Aaron Michaels, the group's chairman, told The Dallas Morning News.

The school board president, William Keever, said that safety concerns forced him to cancel the meeting.

"I couldn't live with myself if someone got shot," Mr. Keever told local reporters.

The turmoil was the latest in a series of race-related troubles in the 150,000-student district. A school board member, Dan Peavy, resigned last year amid a furor over taped telephone conversations in which he made racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks.

Mr. Peavy, who is white, is also scheduled to stand trial July 1 on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering. (See Education Week, May 15, 1996.)

Makeup of Board

The protest group has called for the resignation of the school board's president, who is white. The group notes that whites make up less than 15 percent of the district's student population and argues that the board should have greater representation from racial and ethnic minorities.

A district spokesman, John Dahlander, said the criticism is unfounded. He noted that three members of the nine-member board are African-American, and three are Hispanic.

Student achievement, especially for Hispanics and blacks, is at an "all-time high" this year, Mr. Dahlander added.

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