Feds find one civil-rights violation at Boston Latin School, other racial issues, but nothing warranting criminal action

Administrators, teacher and students at Boston Latin School will have to undergo annual training on preventing racial discrimination, under an agreement announced today by the US Attorney's office to end the federal probe into possible civil-rights at the school.

The US Attorney's office reports it found one specific civil-rights violation, involving an incident in which "a male student addressed a female black student during class using profanity and a racial slur and threatened to lynch her with an electrical cord," but that it is not recommending any criminal charges.

The investigation also raised concerns about BLS's response to two other racially charged incidents and the overall effectiveness of its efforts to create an inclusive school climate for all of its students. Finally, the USAO found that BLS did not consistently apply policies and procedures relating to student discipline.

In addition to the training, BPS has to hire a diversity/non-discrimination officer at BLS to handle "complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation" and conduct an annual school-wide racial-climate survey at BLS. The school will also have to set up "a system of restorative justice at BLS."

Statement by School Superintendent Tommy Chang:

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) is committed to ensuring that Boston Latin School — along with all of our schools — fosters a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for each and every student. We and the leadership of Boston Latin School are fully committed to implementing the recommendations in the voluntary resolution agreement reached with the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure all reports of racial bias are fully, promptly and effectively addressed at Boston Latin and every Boston public school. BPS will also continue our ongoing district-wide work to educate students and staff on adopting culturally and linguistically sustaining practices, recognizing bias-based behavior and closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

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    Comments

    "A System Of Restorative Justice"

    I would rather have the student who said he was going to lynch someone dealt with under the school's discipline guidelines, wait he was. That seems to be lost in the process of yelling and grandstanding that has gone on here.

    The term "System of Restorative Justice" can mean anything. Do we have a truth and reconciliation like South Africa? Do we have members of the ANC come in and yell at us about how we were evil? (It happened in 1983 and again in 1985). Do we have Larry Johnson, the guy who works with Dennis and Callahan at EEI come in and give a black power speech to the students, yet somehow doesn't call out his co-workers? (Larry spoke on MLK Day to us one year). Do we just say (and enforce) the be excellent to each other philosophy of Bill and Ted?

    The problem with being at the top is that everyone is gunning for you. Well experienced heads have rolled at Latin. Teachers and administrators, including the fabulous Zita Cousens, who got right in the Mayor's kitchen, when he tried to exploit the circus for how own benefit, rallied to the former headmaster and staff. They must have been doing at least nearly all of the stuff that needs to be done right if they received so much support.

    There was a misstep at Latin. There was a hiccup in a well run school that produces stellar young people of all backgrounds regardless of the money, race, and religion of the students.

    I would prefer that the feeder public schools be brought up to snuff first before we lower standards for the school. Don't cheapen the brand for the kids just starting and hoping to get into the school. Some of us like ideals, and not just getting by.

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    No True Scotsman

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    Fallacy 101 right here.

    Sometimes special smart kids are racists, too!

    It doesn't make them less special or smart - it just makes them humans like other humans who are clueless.

    Covering for them, as an adult, and denying and denying and denying won't fix the situation - it just makes you a racist with even fewer excuses for being a racist.

    Now go scrub that "not a racist" graffiti for your friend, eh?

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    "before we lower standards for the school."

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    One debate at a time. It seems the Superintendent was in a hurry to run a narrow investigation last March, declare it over and try to move on. People in the community insisted it not be brushed under the rug. NAACP pushed for answers with an interrogatory and Urban League pushed too. The US Attorney looked at the evidence and decided to run an investigation.

    Chang must have rethought his 'it's over' stance because he tasked BPS Office of Equity with running a broader investigation at BLS. Chang reported out the results a few months back with a course of action. Subsequently, closer to graduation, BlackatBLS said they had seen some progress but that not enough had changed.

    About standards, it's worth looking at the assessment but more importantly and John notes, let's invest in preparing more of our students to do well on it.

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    Cotton Mather would have been proud

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    This investigation rivals the Salem Witch Trials. Blame all the staff and teachers for the actions of one troubled teen who should have been expelled. Carmen should ride the subway in the afternoon when school gets out and teens terrorize the elderly riders of all races with racial slurs and threats.

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    And now you know how Joan of Arc felt

    Part of getting a top notch education is learning how to deal with living in a world of people who are different than you are and where your parents and teachers won't cover for your mistakes out of concern for what other people might think.

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    Ooo da pwecious widdle snowflakes!

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    Sorry but this is pure unadulterated PC horse shit.

    Hey Kids, guess what? All life long ignorant asshats are going to say stuff that hurts you. Without the "benefit" if Restorative Justice and a Diversity officer, you're going to have to suck it up move on. A lesson they won't be teacing you any time soon.

    You're first firing/layoff will not include a trigger warning...

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    Flip this over

    Trigger warning for you: "personal responsibility" "appropriate behavior" "consequences for actions"

    Most smart, well educated young people need to understand that they are entering a world where actions have consequences.

    So maybe "lifelong ignorant asshats" are the ones who need to suck it the fuck up and start dealing with consequences for their bullying bullshit instead of hiding behind the skirts of prestige-addled adults.

    Your first firing/layoff will not include hoards of people obsessed with "reputation" desperate to conceal your misbehavior.

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    Lynching

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    Since the victim of said threat is identified as a black female and the race of the perpetrater is not mentioned is it safe to say he was not white?

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    And I fear

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    that this is where these things are going to get very, very hard to parse. A lot of the Latino kids in my neighborhood toss around the N-word like it's nothing--if some Dominican kid gets in some fight with an African-American friend at BLS and says "f*** you, n*****" do we call that a civil rights violation? If it's the other way around? What if it's a Tunisian kid? I know I'm playing devil's advocate but this is almost certainly going to happen and it's going to require a Solomonic level of wisdom to handle from an admin pov.

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    It's an interesting question

    So the perpetrator of the electric wire noose wasn't white or black. What was he? I don't know. We could go with the odds (68% of the remainder) and stipulate that he was likely Asian. But perhaps Sally's guess is right, and we're talking about a Hispanic kid (again, going by the odds here, most likely Dominican).

    In either case, going with the odds again (69% of Asians in MA are foreign-born), we're probably talking about a kid whose parents are from another culture, someone whose sensitivity to and understanding of American racial history and conflict is not the same as that of a kid whose family has lived through the racial struggles in this country over the past few generations.

    This noose thing is a crappy thing to do, no matter what group you're in and no matter how long your family has been in this country. Everybody should know better.

    One of the questions I find interesting is how the actions of this student would be addressed by this new restorative justice program. We have to assume - because this is a major foundation of restorative justice programs - that the student would not be suspended or expelled; in the traditional sense of punishment, he would receive less than he did (the investigation revealed that he did receive punishment, though privacy laws prohibit telling other people what it was).

    The restorative justice program would not permit the leadership of BLS to apply the traditional kinds of punishment they have in the past (suspension, expulsion, etc.), in a case of racial bullying. It will likely leave BLS administrators unable to remove students from class or school for bullying others on racial grounds. Instead, it will be discussion circles, talk therapy, etc.

    I think that, in the case of the student with the noose, this might have been a good response to the problem, if the root cause was genuinely a lack of understanding. Overall, the question is whether RJ replacing traditional punishments will lead to an increase or a decrease in racial bullying.

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    Adam,

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    Adam,
    Do you believe that this is an appropriate comment? You were privy to certain information because your daughter was a member of BLS Class of 2016.Ne

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    Fair enough

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    I was trying to head off the sort of discussion that seems to come up in situations like this when the background of the person involved isn't clear - without giving away too much information about the people involved.

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    Lynching

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    Adam
    The race of the male who made the threat is not identified in the US Attorney's report. The racial identity of the person in the emoji incident is however. I don't know how you can say he's not Black.8

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    See the above comment

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    The one about me having inside information. It's true, I do, so I know the kid was not black. At this point, you can believe me or not, but I'm not going to further ID the kid.

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    Restorative Justice?

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    Restorative Justice? That means "We want reparations!". The restorative justice they are looking for will come in the form of some sort of affirmative action program, outlining a quota, and giving preference to minorities who may or may not be qualified for the rigors of this once prestigious and challenging school, thereby discriminating against others who may have all the credentials but will have to take a back seat due to a racist quota system. The goal is to turn this school into an average, crappy, Boston Public School. It's sad that this administration will be remembered as the one that destroyed Latin School. Not even Menino, the man who drove out the middle class, could bust up Latin. This is sad to see how low our political leaders have fallen.

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    It's about what they're going to make it mean

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    They are going to make it mean "reparations". Just like "forced busing" didn't mean they were going to try to destroy the neighborhoods of Boston.

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    Again, anyone who doesn't

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    Again, anyone who doesn't agree doesn't know what they're talking about, right Adam?nat least I was allowed to have an opinion this time.

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    And how will the alleged

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    And how will the alleged offenders reconcile with the alleged victims?

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    Presumably

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    in the same fake "I'm sorry" way that school bullies have always had to apologize or make restitution to their victims...until the teacher walks away and they start right back up bullying the victim again for causing them to get in trouble.

    I was the unfortunate victim in many of these incidents.

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    Question:

    At a larger school like Boston Latin, why are bullying complaints even reaching the headmasters office? I would think a school like BLS would have Deans/Assistant principals that would handle initial complaints of bullying or at least be referred to by the headmaster.

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    There are laws about this

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    The responsibility ultimately lies at the top and cannot be devolved.

    Look it up.

    Part of the problem with bullying in the past has been "I never heard any of this" b.s. from the top. Denying that bullying is going on in your organization by making sure nothing is ever reported is considered a sign of weakness and guilt.

    Too bad cops aren't subject to similar anti-bullying laws as this one well-written law.

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    Principal has to be involved

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    http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr49.html

    The statute directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to promulgate regulations addressing a principal's duties under one of the ten required elements of the bullying prevention and intervention plan, namely, notification to parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor of bullying or retaliation and the action taken to prevent further bullying, and notification to law enforcement of bullying or retaliation, when the aggressor's conduct may result in criminal charges.

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    Not what I'm asking.

    The law (including the CMR mentioned below) does not say that principal has to investigate every single bullying complaint.

    I asked a simple question, and that is whether or not deans/assistant principals are responsible for these investigations or not.

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    What it does say

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    1. principal has to be aware of the situation
    2. principal has to keep records of bullying complaints
    3. principal has to notify parents
    4. principal has to be responsible for making sure the complaints are all investigated

    It doesn't seem to matter if the principal has to be the one doing the investigating, but the principal is responsible for the investigation of complaints and keeping records of those investigations and reporting to parents and the state.

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    NAACP position?

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    So does the NAACP concur with the US Gov't findings and conclusion? I couldn't find an opinion posted in a public forum. Perhaps I just wasn't looking in the right spot.

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    Joint Statement

    BostonHerald:

    “We have always asserted that Latin is not the only school in Greater Boston or the Commonwealth to have issues with racial isolation and racial hostility. However, the very public discussion of harassment at BLS has raised significant awareness of these issues across Boston’s public, charter, and private schools.” -NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union and other Boston-based civil rights groups.

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    How cavalier.

    The institutional failures are no different then those described at BLS.

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    Do you even understand how the system works?

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    They can look into Wheelock only if there is a lawsuit filed or threatened, or they are invited into the fray by other jurisdictions.

    Also? WHEELOCK is NOT a PUBLIC SCHOOL nor is it a HIGH SCHOOL.

    As much as some people want to pretend that Latin is Special And Different and Therefore Above the Laws regarding everything from bullying to disability accomodation, it is not exempt from federal and state laws that require public schools to follow the rules.

    I'm sure one of the lawyers around here can elaborate on the differences.

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    Yes

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    And?

    Why would the federal DA be involved if these are already being processed in another jurisdiction?

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    Why not?

    She's involved herself in other cases with dual application of law. Please explain how BLS is different.

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