Following Report, Activists Still Calling For Removal Of Boston Latin School Headmaster

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The Boston Latin School (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Boston Latin School (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

 Updated February 19, 2016, 5:00 pm

Activists say they are disappointed with the results of an investigation into reports of racially charged incidents at Boston Latin School.

The investigation looked at alleged incidents of racism over an 18 month period at the nation’s oldest public school. While it found school administrators’ actions were appropriate in some cases, it criticized the way they handled others.

The report, released Thursday, said school officials did not “adequately investigate” an incident in November of 2014. In that case, a black female student said a non-black male student called her a racial slur and threatened her with a reference to lynching.

“There are absolutely issues that need to be addressed,” Superintendent Tommy Chang said in an interview following the release of the report. “I cannot speak publicly about any discipline for staff or for students. I can confirm that Lynne Mooney Teta is keeping her job.”

Mooney Teta is the headmaster of Boston Latin School. Several activists have called for her removal, including Kevin Peterson, of the New Democracy Coalition.

“It has been communicated to me by parents and alumni at the school over the last month that there is profound disappointment within communities of color about the leadership at BLS and that she should be removed,” Peterson said.

Peterson was one of the community activists who met with Chang after Kylie Webster-Cazeau and Meggie Noel, two black students at the school, launched a social media campaign and posted a YouTube video saying school officials had ignored their complaints about systemic racism at the school.

Darnell Williams, of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, was also at that meeting with Chang. He said there are other issues surrounding diversity at Boston Latin that need to be addressed too.

“The number of minority students at BLS is low and that environment is somewhat toxic,” Williams said.

The investigation also made recommendations for moving forward, saying the school needs a new anti-racism initiative.

Chang said the district will conduct what he calls a “racial climate audit” at Boston Latin. It’s also working to increase hiring of black and Latino teachers and has begun to have dialogues on race and ethnicity, which will be mandatory for all students and staff.

“I’m not going to be satisfied until every single student in Boston Latin school and Boston Public Schools feel that they are safe at school so they can actually learn,” Chang said. “That’s my number one priority, and we are not there.”

Chang also said the issues at Boston Latin would lead to change at all of the city’s schools.

“Long term, we’re going to take everything that we’re learning at Boston Latin and we’re going to make sure it happens system-wide,” Chang said.

Chang also noted that the district’s Office of Equity, which conducted the report and monitors issues of race and diversity in the district, is now reporting directly to the superintendent — as it did when it was first created.

Williams, with the Urban League, said he will hold a community meeting Monday in response to the report.

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