updated 6/5/2005 4:18:31 PM ET 2005-06-05T20:18:31

A civil rights group official on Sunday dismissed a Boy Scouts audit of the number of blacks participating in an inner-city youth program, saying the figures are unrealistic.

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

“Let’s have a roll call. Who would be opposed to that?” Beasley said. He planned to challenge the council on Monday 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 Beasley challenged the council’s claim in September that more than 10,000 boys — mainly blacks and other minorities — were in the program. The program provides the boys’ registration fee, books, uniforms and other opportunities, including scholarships for camp.

Audit: 5,000 boys wrongly registered
The audit, released Tuesday, found that nearly 5,000 boys were falsely registered 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 had only attended informational meetings about the program were signed up.

The audit’s findings prompted the resignation of David Larkin, the council’s Scout Executive, who said he took full responsibility for the organization’s actions.

‘We’ve got open ears’
Bertram Sears, vice president of membership for the council, said Sunday 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.

“It’s always best to base actions on findings versus allegations,” Sears said. “But we’ve got open ears. If there are more things to look at, we’ll certainly do that.”

United Way officials are putting together a task force of board members and volunteers to examine the audit report and make decisions on whether to withhold funding to the council.

Similar allegations have been made in Alabama, where the FBI is investigating whether the Birmingham-based Greater Alabama Boy Scout Council padded its membership rolls.

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