UPDATE: BPS Superintendent Carol Johnson responds.
The federal Department of Education says it will investigate a complaint that the city's current plans for closing and merging schools disproportionately affects black and Latino students.
The Boston Bar Association's Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Black Educators' Alliance of Massachusetts recently filed a complaint with the department alleging that despite a black superintendent and black School Committee chairman, when it comes to school closings Boston Public Schools are protecting white kids in West Roxbury, Roslindale and Brighton and Asian students in Chinatown at the expense of black and Latino students in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.
Of the schools, to be closed 46% of the students that will be impacted are Black and
44% are Latino, while only 5% are White, which is disproportionate to the School District’s
demographics: 36%, 41% and 13% respectively.
The School Committee voted in December to close and merge a number of schools due to a looming budget gap - and, school officials said, to give students at "underperforming" schools a better chance at a good education. In addition to school in Dorchester and Roxbury, the plan would also shutter schools in East Boston, South Boston and Jamaica Plain.
The two groups allege the charter schools that might gain control of some of the closed buildings would be less likely to enroll blacks and Latinos than BPS schools, that the shutdown of the Hyde Park Education Complex screws kids from Hyde Park and Mattapan who will now have to travel further to schools that may be in even worse academic shape and that Dorchester's Clap Elementary School, which has a far higher percentage of white students than other Dorchester schools, was removed from the final closure list.
The groups also charge the new plan continues a BPS pattern of moving blacks and Latinos out of newly or soon to be renovated buildings into older facilities. It cites as an example an impending overhaul of the Quincy Upper School - which has a high percentage of Asian students - now that the heavily black Boston Leadership Academy has been moved from that building to Brighton.