Sunday, September 07, 2003

Racism Had Nothing to Do With This

I'm sure:

When Natercia Dias picked up her 5-year-old son at his school bus stop in Dorchester late Tuesday afternoon, she noticed a second young boy standing alone on the sidewalk.

The boy was quiet and calm, said Dias. He did not appear frightened and he did not resist when she started rifling through his backpack in search of any information that could identify him, she said. As it turned out, the kindergartner was miles from his Wellesley home.

Thanks to Dias and other parents at the bus stop, the black kindergartner -- who had been mistaken for a student in the Metco desegregation program, put on a Metco bus at the end of his after-school program in Wellesley, and dropped off in Dorchester -- found his way back to his family.

"Everybody else was gone and he was just standing there," Dias said yesterday, recalling the scene at the bus stop. "He was completely confused. I asked him, `Is this where you get off?' and he said, `Yes.' Everything I asked him, he said, `Yes.' "

Officials of the after-school program, run by the Wellesley Community Children's Center, launched an investigation this week into whether racial bias clouded the judgment of the white teacher who directed the child to the Metco bus on the first day of school.

Metco is the busing program. Dorchester is a poorer area, Wellesely is a not poorer area.