Single Barrel, Double Standard

When Lancaster's school superintendent ordered a lenient sentence for two white kids caught with shotguns, black parents said it was one more example of the suburb's bigotry

I ask Tillotson if the unceasing controversy worries him. "Yes," he says, "it does. It concerns me deeply."

He says he hasn't yet spoken out on it because he doesn't want to infringe on the school system's independence from City Hall. "I would feel insulted if the trustees told me how to do my job," he says. Like others perturbed by the shotgun strife, Tillotson says he has faith things will eventually right themselves. "Anything that detracts from Lancaster's image greatly concerns me. But I'm an optimist. I think good people will arrive at good conclusions. A temporary situation will resolve itself."

Asked whether the superintendent and the school board have handled the episode properly, Tillotson's carefully worded response implies that he thinks the case hasn't been handled with impartiality. But he holds open the hope that common ground can be reached after all, even in a polarized dispute that seems to defy resolution and compromise.

Protest signs in front of Oliver and Kimberly Lankford's home were stolen, then returned with added racist messages. So the couple put their next--and more inflammatory--sign out of reach.
Peter Calvin
Protest signs in front of Oliver and Kimberly Lankford's home were stolen, then returned with added racist messages. So the couple put their next--and more inflammatory--sign out of reach.
Protest signs in front of Oliver and Kimberly Lankford's home were stolen, then returned with added racist messages. So the couple put their next--and more inflammatory--sign out of reach.
Mark Graham
Protest signs in front of Oliver and Kimberly Lankford's home were stolen, then returned with added racist messages. So the couple put their next--and more inflammatory--sign out of reach.

"When the board handles the situation with no bias, no prejudice," Tillotson says in a measured tone, "then we'll turn this thing around."

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