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John DeBoie, 1987

South Albany Principal John DeBoie, center, speaking at West Albany this morning, asks students to return to school.

The following article originally ran in the Friday, October 30, 1987, edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald.

Students from South Albany High School, and some from West, marched off campus this morning in a protest against the continuing deadlock in negotiations between the Albany School Board and the teachers' union.

An estimated 300 students gathered in South's "Senior Hall" at the start of school for a sit-down strike. Many then left campus, and some with cars drove to West Albany High School to collect students in support of their protest.

West administrators tried to prevent students from leaving, but some did leave.

South Albany Principal John DeBoie met with the students on West's front lawn. He said he understood their frustrations and said that graduation would not be affected if teachers strike.

DeBoie told students he recently underwent back surgery and asked them to go back to school "for me."

Students then crowded into the school district office and spoke with administrators.

Don Shore, an Oregon Education Association coordinator temporarily stationed in Albany, said today the union did not condone and was not encouraging students walking out.

He said the union had asked teachers not to discuss labor issues in class but this was difficult when students asked questions.

However, according to Kim Thorp, a junior at South, some teachers "were rooting for us."

Assistant Principal Elaine Wells at South said students involved with SAFE — Students' Association for Education — organized the sit-down protest, which then "got out of hand."

"There were I'd guess 300 involved and probably another group that saw an advantageous situation and decided to take the day off," she said. "Obviously the youngsters are going to lose today's education and what would be going on in the classroom," she said. "That's not a good situation."

Some students who defied administrators were sent home and further disciplinary steps may be taken, she said.

SAFE is planning a "human chain" for 9 a.m. Saturday, stretching from the teacher union's "crisis headquarters" at 121 First Ave. E. to the district office, 718 Seventh Ave. S.W.

At the district office, students began arriving around 10:15. About 300 boisterous students eventually crowded into a meeting room. Some were dressed in Halloween costumes.

"Nobody cares about our education, they care about money," said Shellee Magee, a senior at South. One girl called the demonstration a "peace walk."

Student representatives Dee Dee Gonzalez from South and Trent Fox from West questioned Superintendent Robert H. Williams and Wes Smith, his assistant.

Gonzalez asked: "Why pay (the substitutes) so much more per day when you can give the real teachers a raise?"

Smith replied: "The average teacher makes $148 a day which is what's going to be paid to replacement teachers."

The questions were often interrupted by riotous applause and hollering as more students crowded in.

Many others sat outside, shouting and cheering.

Students booed when Smith said, "We agreed we'd talk for 15 minutes. Now it's time to go back to classes."

Smith said school officials were concerned that some students rode to the demonstration crowded in the back of pickups. School buses were provided to take the students back to classes, but most refused to ride them.

When Smith and Williams were being drowned out by yelling, one student shouted, "If you're not serious, go back to school."

Albany Police Chief Darrell Pepper arrived at the office as the crowd was breaking up. He said he hadn't come because of the demonstration but had business with someone in a nearby house.

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