Brinkley Students Boycott School

BRINKLEY, AR--This week, many Arkansas students are taking benchmark exams. But there's a boycott in Brinkley.

Just by looking it's hard to believe 350 students like Brittney Allen are boycotting their school system.

"Here we do the same thing we do at school. We do math, English and exercise," said Allen.

For the last two days around three-fifths of the district's black students have gathered together to protest what they feel is racism by the superintendent and school board.

"This is real. This is something that has been going on in our schools for years and something needs to be done about it," said Allen.

Out of six district administrators two of them are black, but because of budget cuts both will lose their jobs at the end of the year. Which means a district that is 65% black will have no representation.

"I really do feel there is racism at the school. By firing all the black administrators at the school that proves racism when the majority of students are black," said Allen.

"Next school year will be the first time in 30 years we didn't have a black administrator. We were doing better than this 20 years ago, so we are going backwards quicker than we are going forward and that is a disgrace," said Reverend Oscar Conyears, one of the volunteers teaching the students while they are out of school.

Conyears feels proud of students like Elye Wilbon who are making this sacrifice.

"It's like I am doing something that is coming from my heart, but I know this might affect my grade," said Wilbon.

The student boycott is in its second day and while the students are prepared for more days, the reality is, according to Conyears, the school is threatening to flunk students with more than eight absents which makes the decision that much harder.

"We know that isn't state policy, but he is trying to blackmail the kids into coming back because he is saying that if they don't come back he is going to fail them," said Conyears.

"I think I am going to take my chances and stay here and stand up for what I believe," said Wilbon.

"If standing up for what's right means flunking, I'll flunk for that. I believe in what's right. I will stand for what's right," said Allen.

The students and black leaders say they are prepared to do whatever is necessary to bring on change. The black community is hoping the attention convinces the state to step in and help the district.