- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) — A civil rights group official yesterday dismissed a Boy Scouts audit of the number of blacks participating in an inner-city youth program, saying the figures still are unrealistic.

The Atlanta Area Council released an audit last week that counted more than 5,300 black Boy Scouts as registered in the Operation First Class program. But Joseph Beasley of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said yesterday that fewer than 500 blacks actually are registered.

“Let’s have a roll call. Who would be opposed to that?” Mr. Beasley said. He planned to challenge the council today to identify 1,000 inner-city Scouts in the program.

“We’re very serious about this. We’re not going to stop just because that report is out,” he said.

The report was commissioned by the local Boy Scouts group after Mr. Beasley challenged the council’s report in September that more than 10,000 boys — mainly blacks and other minorities — were in the program, which provides the boys’ registration fees, books, uniforms and other opportunities, including scholarships for camp.

The audit released Tuesday found that nearly 5,000 boys were registered falsely in the program, largely because of pressure on Scout officials assigned to inner-city areas to increase membership numbers.

The audit found that former Scouts too old to participate remained on the memberships lists and that boys who only had attended informational meetings about the program were signed up.

The audit’s findings prompted the resignation of David Larkin, executive director of the Atlanta Area Council, who said he took full responsibility for the organization’s actions.

Bertram Sears, vice president of membership for the council, said yesterday that the council had confidence in the audit investigation because the independent law firm that led it conducted interviews with staff and scoured Boy Scout records.

Tom Gay, president of the council’s board of trustees, said yesterday that eight staff members involved in the false registrations will be held accountable. None has been suspended, but each will be investigated and will be subject to “retraining, counseling and disciplining,” he said.

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