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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with E. V. Dacons, March 4, 1991. Interview M-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Fewer discipline problems in segregated black schools

Dacons explains his discipline strategy at the segregated Lincoln Heights high school. As a critique of contemporary schools, he contends that he experienced fewer discipline problems because students came from stable two-parent households. He also recalls how blacks worked cooperatively to sustain black schools financially and physically.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with E. V. Dacons, March 4, 1991. Interview M-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

E. V. DACONS:
I want to say that that was not a real problem. We had--let me put this in the proper perspective--parents would say to me before school started, some would say professor I'm sending six youngeons to you in the fall. Now we want to learn and if they give you any problem you let us know and nothing about before you let us you know what to do with our children. Now, and of course they went back into those hills saying we believe in not sparing the road and the rod answers for everything. We did use corporal punishment. I did. I used corporal punishment but I think that my use of it was more psychological than the real physical aspect of it. I shocked I guess not as many but I guess some who came out of families where the parents were on the border of being abusive with whipping. It was alleged that one parent used a chain and I don't know if there was any basis to that. I never--now the if you want to say deserved it--they weren't bad boys. I would go to them and they would come into the office when the teacher would send them to me and were just mischievous as they could be and into something, but what was such a shock though when I would just touch them on the shoulder. They expected me to reach and get my strap. I had a strap that was just hanging over there. They expected me to go over there and get it but I just touched them on the shoulder and said why did you do it--tell me about it. And we ended up just talking. I wasn't thinking about using any corporal punishment on him but trying to figure out what to do though the whole time we were talking because here the corporal punishment is supposed to be the answer but it is not. A good administrator has to know when and you don't always know. We had no discipline. I had one student that I had to send to the probate court to send away during my whole 8 years and I guess it was a bit ironic because they thought that I was crazy when I called. I said to the court, I have a student that is not responding to our instructional program and we can't help him. As a matter of fact we are doing him a disservice and the other students here a disservice by his tenure here. Knowing that those courts at times do this they give the principal a lecture on what they should do, try this. I said now mister I don't want to second guess you but if you plan to send this student back to me then you are compounding my problem. So I must know what you are going to do before I send this child to you. This may be altogether against policy but this has happened before with a formal principal. This boy was a bad egg. He came in to me and he transferred to Winston-Salem and he came back and said, you know what they tried to put me out--that principal tried to put me out. He said, he couldn't. He brought a double barreled shotgun on Mr. Temple. So the probate court just sent him back over there. I said now all the things that you are about to suggest we have done that. We have done all of that. And the only reason I am calling now is that at our school we are going to have to tie up one of our staff full time just to handle him and we will let 32 or 33 other folks or 35 other people, you see. That is unfair to the community so they took that child and they did send him away because he was a case that we couldn't handle. But other than that, no discipline.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Do you think it was because of the parental support?
E. V. DACONS:
We did have a kind of parenting that went on there then with them. They believe in doing a job of parenting. Plus the fact I think we had more stable homes then than we do now. We had some children who came from foster homes but the foster home was also a parent who had children of her own. The foster home was a father, mother situation and those children came out of well-disciplined homes. Of course we didn't have then, of course there was alcohol but that was the only drug that we had. I think that you had more two-parent families I think. And I'm not discrediting people who are single parents but I don't believe that they are getting the job done. That's just my own opinion.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
You've already talked a bit about transportation with the buses that you had coming from the other two counties. What other buses did you have and did you have to be responsible for the transportation for your school?
E. V. DACONS:
My job was to touch base with the bus drivers. It of course was my job to rent those buses.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
You didn't have an assistant?
E. V. DACONS:
No, no I didn't have an assistant. The nearest thing that I came to an assistant principal was if I had to leave campus I simply would go down the halls and say to a teacher who was a bit stronger and it was usually a male but not all the time was it a male. Once or twice I left it in the hands of a female. One of the strongest members that I had on that staff was Mrs. E.A. Brenton, a lady. She is still living in fact she is Director of the Lincoln Heights recreational corporation there where they have gotten some of the Smith Reynolds monies to restore one of the oldest buildings on campus. She was in the elementary area then and if you had problems, disciplinary problems, it would usually be at the high school level. But the need to have someone there to hold the fort in the way of discipline or a referral would come in during my absence. I want to say for the most part nile, void. We didn't have that kind of thing and we had a couple of strong staff members there, men and as I pointed out some women too who could very well do it but I didn't have a problem.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Well, how many buses did you have other than those two that came from the other county?
E. V. DACONS:
Okay, when I got there there was only one coming out of the county. That was Alleghany. We had nine buses, ten plus that one coming in out of the county. Now some of those had to make two runs, two local runs. We only had 52 students who were within walking distance. Everybody was bused in. This is why the Lincoln Heights was closed as a school because we were busing out folks by all these other schools to get there. It was sad because Lincoln Heights was one of the better schools in Wilkes County. As a matter I heard Rosenthough staff member say that before they had a gym to play in they came to Lincoln Heights. So you had a community that was very active and farsighted during that time in getting things done. They built their own cafeteria. The first bus that was put there, as a matter of fact, the first bus was, pardon a personal reference here, was an uncle of mine through my father's side. It was my father's sister's husband, Tom Riddix, bought one of the first buses for the Black children. So the building that Mrs. is so instrumental now in providing leadership there they helped build that one. So it's their school really. That did not go unnoticed to me when I had to make a decision.