Yesterday I posted a copy of the letter which the Boston United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz is using as a basis for launching an investigation into the Boston School System (BPS). The letter dated the Friday before her decision on Wednesday March 2 compels the belief it was this letter alone that prompted the investigation. Sadly, the City of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang welcomed the investigation. They did this despite an earlier thorough investigation conducted by the Boston Public Schools Office of Equity that found the allegations were not substantiated.
Superintendent Chang met with the head of the local NAACP, Michael Curry, on the Monday before the Friday date when he and others sent the letter. He said he saw no need for a new probe and reported that: “But I’ve said to him if there are any specific incidents that we are not aware of, please come directly to me. Have families come directly to the Office of Equity. We’re going to look at anything that comes to us.”
It was clear thought that was not going to satisfy some. Darnell L. Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said the controversy at the elite school has unified the city’s black community. “I don’t think it’s just her,” he said of BLS Headmaster Teta, likening the situation to the series of high-profile racial incidents at the University of Missouri that led to the resignation last fall of its president and chancellor. “We have a headmaster and an administration who are tone deaf.”
Tito Jackson, a city counselor, who after the appointment of Tommy Chang in July 2015, said, “The objective now is to surround and celebrate the leader we have. We have to close ranks because this is really about the children.” He now has tweeted that “I stand in solidarity with BLS #BlackAtBLS. “ How quickly he threw the superintendent overboard.
The letter was written two days after the mayor said there was no need of a federal investigation. Neither his opinion, the openness of the Superintendent Chang, or the prior Office of Equity investigation deterred the U.S. Attorney Cortiz from launching her own investigation.
The letter contains few facts but much wild rhetoric. Consider it in light of there being 2,400 students at BLS the majority of whom are non-white. It covers three or possibly more years. It alleges racial harassment, a racially hostile learning environment, racial disparate treatment and deliberate indifference to these issues by the Boston Latin School (BLS) administrators. The evidence it produced was sparse.
It referred to a YouTube video where two young black women talked about “White students directing racial epithets at Black students in BLS hallways” and “racially offensive” comments in social media. No numbers of incidents were mentioned; no examples of anything was included except as follows:
In November 2014 one non-black student threatened a black female using a racial epithet while holding an electric cord and referred to lynching. The letter said he was not properly disciplined so the harassment continued the following school year.
After the grand jury did not indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown (November 2014) white students made “racially insensitive remarks” over social media to black students. They did it again 2015. No examples of these are provided nor are the numbers of such incidents or number of students involved mentioned.
It did note one instance of a teacher who allegedly greeted a student by calling him the “n-word” but did not tell us when it happened. It said there were seven race related incidents in 14 months but none were spelled out.
It complains black students are punished more harshly than white students without setting out any examples to compare. Nothing was said about how Asian or Hispanic students were punished.
That’s it. Those are the specific incidents which are not specific at all. Everything is vague and unsubstantiated. That prompted the federal investigation.
It used words as “racially hostile learning environment” and “deliberate indifference” by administrators but nothing supports its statements. It wants: “an independent investigation to be conducted by a governmental entity with the authority to document more definitively the extent of the problem and provide remedies . . . .” It is like saying we really have no idea what the problem is but want the federal government to find something and do something about it. I thought the idea was to show the real existence of a problem before asking the government to intervene.
It notes “these incidents are part of a broader history of racial insensitivity, harassment and discrimination that has existed for many years at BLS and possibly through the Boston Public Schools.”
If all these persons who signed the letter can do is to point to so few incidents among so many students over many years the fair conclusion by anyone reading it should be that f the BPS has to be doing something right.
There is one sentence that points to the true purpose behind the letter. It reads that at BLS there is a: “disproportionately low numbers of Black students relative to their population in the school district.” It does not tell of the disproportionately higher number of Asian students relative to their population. Nor does it talk about student ratio in relation to general population; nor the real reasons why this exists as I explained earlier.
The sinister goal I suggest of those who affixed their signature to the letter is the destruction of the gem of the Boston Public School system: Boston Latin School.