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NAACP calls for school board chair to resign

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May 20, 2005

Americus- "This NAACP will not stop until Busman is gone," says Dr. John Marshall.

NAACP president Dr. John Marshall held a press conference calling for the resignation of Sumter County school board chairman Dr. Michael Busman.

"Our NAACP will not sit idly by and allow Dr. Busman to clean out all of the black leadership," says Marshall.

He claims Busman already forced out former superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry when the vote to renew his contract was split along racial lines. Perry ended up resigning.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it. This system was moving in the right direction," Marshall says.

Perry declined an interview, but said in his three years as superintendent he raised test scores and reduced the dropout rate. He says he can't prove the decision not to keep him was racially motivated, but he can't see any other reason why the board didn't want him to stay on.

"That's crazy. All we do as a board is we take care of business, do what we have to do, and I'm not trying to get rid of anybody," says Busman.

Busman denies all of the NAACP's claims. He says his votes are based on the best interest of the children. He says Perry's contract wasn't renewed because the majority of the board thought it was time for a change.

"Each board member only has one vote anyway. It takes five people on our board to pass something, so that's just false information," Busman says.

Perry's position isn't the only one the system will need to fill. Assistant superintendent for operations and personnel Dr. James Drew announced his retirement last week.

He also declined an interview, but disagrees that he was forced out. He says after more than 30 years in education he was ready to retire, and that his decision was solely based on personal and family reasons.

Still, Marshall and the rest of the NAACP vows to protest and fight until Busman is off the board.

Assistant superintendent Drew's retirement isn't effective until June 30th. Busman says the board doesn't have any immediate plans to look for a replacement. They're hoping to leave that to whoever they hire as the new superintendent.

The board has appointed Dr. Robert Clay as interim-superintendent. Busman says the Georgia school board association is helping them sort through the applications and find a permanent replacement.

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