Report: BPS looking at plan to limit exam-school applications from private, parochial students

UPDATE: Story rewritten to take into account BPS comments.

WGBH reports School Superintendent Tommy Chang is looking at a plan that would require exam-school applicants be enrolled in a BPS school in fifth or sixth grade to apply to one of the city's three exam schools - as a way of dealing with the minority-enrollment issue at Boston Latin School.

BPS, however, denied the report. In a statement, School Superintendent Tommy Chang called it "patently false:"

BPS does not have a report, in draft or final form, entitled: “BPS Strategic Implementation Plan 2016/Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force.” There are no proposals to prevent any students from enrolling into the district’s three exam schools.

School Committee Chairman Michael O'Neill opened tonight's committee meeting by saying he looks forward to WGBH's apology. The committee did not otherwise discuss the issue during tonight's meeting.

Mayor Walsh said in a statement:

There is absolutely no truth to a report published on WGBH today that claims that the Boston Public Schools are proposing changes to the admissions process of our exam schools.

In fact, in November, 2014 - several months before Chang became Boston superintendent - a BPS task force did recommend changes in the exam-school entrance process that included limiting entrance to students who spent fifth grade in BPS schools and adding recommendations and interviews to the admission process. The recommendations were not acted on.

This year, a BPS committee - which includes representatives of local civil-rights groups, but not exam schools - has been working on recommendations to increase minority enrollment at Boston Latin School that could include changes to the admission process.

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Comments

What?

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Sounds discriminatory to me.

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Yup

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Sure, that's fine. Just reimburse me for the property taxes I paid that went to BPS for the years I had my kids in private/parochial school.

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Boo hoo. You gave money to

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Boo hoo. You gave money to the Catholics to keep your kids away from the scary ones. That was your call.

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You obviously don't know

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You obviously don't know anything about parochial schools. Newsflash; many students are not only not white, but not catholic.

It's got nothing to do with race, but nice try.

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And they are still a resident

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And they are still a resident of the City of Boston, so are their kids, regardless of giving money to "the Catholics", they are entitled to a seat in the BPS and have a right to take the test for the exam schools. BTW, perhaps OP sends his kids to "the Catholics" not because they are keeping their kids away from "the scary ones", but maybe, just maybe, it is because OP can afford to give their kids what they see as the best education possible, especially given how crazy the lottery system is in the city, and how generally bad overall the grade 1-6 program is.

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I'm confused

I thought the priests were the scary ones to keep your kids away from.

(Ah, sometimes the lowest hanging fruit is the sweetest)

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Wow.

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How does a bigoted comment like this get past Adan's review process.

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Holy crap!

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The parents will have Tommy's head if he really tries to implement that. The city cannot hold out a Latin carrot to draw people back for a year or two.

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Tommy's ... and Marty's

Almost certainly illegal -- as well as politically radioactive.

Chang and Walsh both need to go, sooner, rather than later.

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If a family that happens to

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If a family that happens to send their kid to a parochial or private school for lower grades is city residents & taxpayers the same way another family is that happens to send their kid to BPS for lower grades... I'd say "almost certainly illegal" to exclude one or give a preference to the other in BLS contention.

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BS at BLS

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If the good Superintendent thinks this is going to solve his minority enrollment problem, he is getting bad advice. Catholic schools, unlike this proposed plan, do not discriminate based on a student's racial background. In fact, the Boston Catholic Schools Foundation raises millions each year to make sure all students, irrespective of their background, can afford a Catholic education.

So if he does try to implement this plan, he may just be locking out some of the best prepared minority students the city has to offer. On the other hand, I'd love to see the legal challenge as parents who have worked multiple jobs to pay tuition to keep their children from being warehoused in some of the underperforming Boston Public schools are expected to sit by and watch their children be locked out of a free public education.

Sounds like a Trump plan.

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Parochial students also do

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Parochial students also do not qualify for the Adams scholarships, which I always thought was unfair

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Not unfair

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If they scored high on MCAS they would get an offer.

Can't have it both ways, darling.

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Don't understand your

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Don't understand your response. care to explain? If my child took the SAT's and scored high to qualify for the scholarship, she would be excluded because she went to parochial school.

Maybe you don't understand (?)

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That scholarship is based on the MCAS

Don't take the MCAS, don't get the scholarship.

Score in the top quartile of the MCAS, get the scholarship.

Many private schools and parents of private school kids brag about their kids not having to take to MCAS. Then complain that their kid doesn't get an MCAS based scholarship.

If my son hadn't taken the PSAT, he couldn't complain about not getting the Finalist honors or money.

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Almost true

The eligibility for the Adams scholarship is not just restricted by MCAS.

In order to claim the Adams Scholarship, the student must

...be a graduate of a Massachusetts public high school;

Private school students whose tuition is publicly funded could be admitted to MCAS testing, but not other private school or homeschooled students. Even private school students who were allowed to take the MCAS could not win the Adams scholarship because it is restricted to public school graduates.

Representatives have presented more than one bill to change that, for example H411 / HD4113, presented by Rep. Jones / Rep. Silvia. It's unclear whether that bill is making any progress at this point. I don't think the bill will make it through before MCAS is abolished in favor of PARCC, and the scholarship is abolished as well.

It's a pretty bullshit scholarship anyway. "Tuition" at UMass is what, $1700 out of $23,000 total cost? And it accomplishes what again? Oh, right... In the long run, however, winning the scholarship actually lowers a student's chances of graduating from college on time.

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Not Only..

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Not only do they pay taxes, they are not costing the BPS any money.

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Not a Parent...

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... so I have no horses in this race, but my impression was the k-8 schools were already really tight? If they have a sudden influx of kids into 5-6 grade to qualify for latin, isn't that going to put more of a strain on BPS?

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Almost certainly illegal

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I can think of three reasons that such a plan would likely be illegal:

1) Any plan that would penalize a student for attending a Catholic or other parochial school rather than a public school is almost certainly unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment, full stop.

2) Any plan that would penalize a newcomer to Boston is almost certainly unconstitutional as violation of the constitutional right to travel. (Long story short on the right to travel: In the 1960s and 1970s the Supreme Court struck down various laws that imposed lengthy prior residency requirements on the exercise of certain rights, e.g., you have to live somewhere a year or more to receive welfare benefits or vote in state elections.)

3) In view of 1) or 2), any plan that would effectively penalize a student for attending non-religious private schools would arguably be unconstitutional as a violation of due process and equal protection.

A law can't favor one group at the expense of another on a purely arbitrary basis: for example, Massachusetts couldn't raise income taxes on people whose last names started with "A" so that it could lower them on everyone else. Any plan to accomplish greater enrollment of certain minority students will obviously have an adverse impact on all other students' chances for enrollment, but BPS would likely need an actual, not-made-up reason to focus that impact only on some limited subgroup of those students.

As it happens, BPS doesn't have seats for all students in the city, and so the families who send students to non-religious private schools are substantially lightening the load on the BPS budget. That's not the end of the discussion, of course, but that fact would make it difficult for BPS to argue that students in non-religious public schools who seek to move back to BPS for high school can appropriately be penalized.

[Update: Thinking a bit more about this, if #1 above is correct that might resolve the issue for all private schools. If BPS were to allow applicants from parochial schools and BPS schools on the same basis, it might be obliged to accept applicants from non-religious private schools on the ground that a government can't favor religion over non-religion.]

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It's a good start, and a Great Idea!

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Great idea!! Level the playing field. You can't expect a child who's enrolled in a Boston Public school to be able to compete with one who's been enrolled in a fancy expensive private school. It's unfair, and the current system favors the rich affluent residents of this city who think their kids are too good to attend Boston Public schools. Force them to send their kids to our schools. The population of all our public schools should reflect the population of the city. There's no reason why in Boston in 2016 we should have schools that have a majority of minority students, and schools that are majority white. Fix the entire system. A return to neighborhood schools would not only diversify our testing schools, but all of our schools.

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Kind of nope

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Boston public schools can be good, and there are plenty of BLS kids who attended them (raises hand as the parent of one).

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Key Word CAN

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There are great ones and there are horrible ones. The great ones tend to be the ones with the most parental involvement and are also usually more diverse. These kids and their parents would help the system.

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What are the stats

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Also...Does anybody know the statistics on the amount of students enrolled at our testing schools (specifically BLS) who attended private and parochial schools vs. a Boston public schools?

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I cannot find this info anywhere.

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And I'm curious. A lot of the kids we knew at BLS went to a mix of public and private or parochial during grade school but plenty went public all the way. Still, I can't find any info on what percentage of kids enter from private vs public.

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Nope

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Charter schools are definitely not full of rich white kids, so I guess you're cool with charter kids being allowed into exam schools or...? .

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Some charter school students

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Some charter school students also have an unfair advantage. In my opinion those schools shouldn't even exist, but they're filling a gap where the public schools have failed. I also don't think rich minorities should have an advantage at getting into testing schools either if that's what you're getting at.

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What Boston school

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Has a majority of white students? It's not Latin, which is about 45% white...and Boston is about 45% white.

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Fair...

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Fair...but there definitely isn't anywhere close to 45% white students in any other public high school in this city.

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Somethings not right

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White students make up 14.2% of the district and 47.4% of Boston Latin. Asian Students make up 8.7% of the district and 29% of BLA. Why do these students make up 76.4% of the school when they only represent 22.9 of the district. WHY? Are the rest of the students less intelligent or at a disadvantage?

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Ha!

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Don't forget Asian kids somehow count as white in terms of ethno-politics related to BPS. Not the 'right' kind of minorities I guess?

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Yes.

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Yes.

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Pretty much the worst idea

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Pretty much the worst idea possible. First of all, the neighborhoods are fairly segregated on their own (you know, hence the need for the current system, and busing back in the day). Plus, a resident of the city is a resident of the city - as a tax payer they have the right to have their kid go to Latin, or have them go to a Private/Parochial school. In fact, it seems kind of wrong to discriminate against people sending their kids to a religious school - there just might be something about that in the little known document called our Constitution.

Furthermore, Parochial school isn't just for the rich - there are plenty of middle and working class families that send their kids to them. Tuition at the schools are very needs based, at least from my experiences with Pope John Paul II Academy recently, which, BTW, also has quite a few minority students, especially in the Lower Mills and Mattapan campuses.

You want to get people back into the BPS? Start by making the education better and give better results. Then people will start coming back to them. Also, not all 1-6 BPS schools are terrible, either - I knew and am/was friends with many people in my days at BLS who came out of the BPS system.

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The neighborhoods aren't as

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The neighborhoods aren't as segregated as they used to be. If you draw the lines right, it works. And if the schools really arent that bad, why are so many parents passing on them.

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In my opinion?

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Uncertainty. It just feels like a total crapshoot, no matter what zone you're in. The quality of schools is pretty uneven though not as dire as some people make out. But more importantly, you have little control over where your kid goes.There's no knowing, if you live in Charlestown, say, whether your seven year old is going to be assigned to the school down the street or get bused to Allston or East Boston or Roxbury. And that's enough for many parents to move to some suburb where they know that the schools are more consistent and they won't be wondering every 3-4 years where the heck their kids are going.

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We still rank nationally as

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We still rank nationally as one of the most segregated cities in the country by income and race. At this point, I would be the most concerned about social economic segregation than anything else - it still reverts back to schools in the city serving mainly poor kids, and school serving mainly more wealthy kids, which calls into question resources/etc. Many of the schools are pretty bad, I simply said that not all of them are terrible, but its a shit show on which you get put into.

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Where

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Did you find those stats on segregation? I have a hard time believing Boston is any more segregated that Chicago, LA, etc.

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I'm not rich or affluent -

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I'm not rich or affluent - but my wife and I work out butts off to send our child to a parochial school because the city assigned our child to a tier 4 & always in the chopping block school 2 communities away.

My has every right to BLS as the next.

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Hmm ...

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I just looked at that link. It's a 70-page slide show that, unless I'm missing something (which is possible) doesn't even talk about exam-school admissions. Guess I know what I'm doing at 6 p.m.

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Kadzis follow up

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Let's hope Kadzis writes a follow-up that includes information about his sources if possible or at least what s/he/they told him, an argument about why he thinks he got the reporting wrong or why he thinks he got the reporting right.

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I am homeschooling my son to

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I am homeschooling my (minority!) son to meet his academic needs. He is entering third grade but scores within the 99% on standardized tests two grades above. I'm an 11 year resident of Roslindale, 20 in Boston, and a former city employee. Homeschool to Latin was our plan. If BPS doesn't want my high-scoring little overachiever just because he was homeschooled for grades K-6, I'd have to say the feeling is mutual.

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Don't let them off the hook like that

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Your future honor student (regardless of race) deserves a chance to take the test and join the other smart kids. Whether a kid does home-school or BPS or private or whatever, if they are tax-paying residents, they deserve their chance to prove they deserve to go to the exam schools.

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The problem starts at a very young age

if students who come from a less affluent background and fall behind on the learning curve at a young age, it is very hard to catch up to the point they need to be at to do well on the ISEE unless they get outside help. You can't just say "open ISEE prep for free" to everyone in 6th grade and think that will solve the problem. It won't. It's more than that. My daughter is a straight A student, not a great test taker, didn't get in to an Exam school but I'm not worried. She'll do better when she takes it in 8th grade. She's a tortoise, not a hare.

The issue of minority students is that those who may not have the support, for whatever reason, to take advantage of tutoring services, etc., is one that is much harder to tackle. Even if learning challenges are identified at a young age, the support within BPS can only do so much. This leaves the rest up to the family.

All this being said, I read Meghan Irons's in-depth piece on the slow action at BLS and feel that the Headmaster clearly didn't see the urgency in addressing the problems some minority students encountered. It's like the Dean at Philips Exeter (I believe) telling a teen boy who sexually assaulted a teen girl at school that his punishment was to make the victim monkey bread every week for a month. Some people, especially if they are not directly affected by things like racism, just don't get the problem.

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If I read one more one-sentence memtion

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of the monkey-bread thing I'm going to lose it. Read the whole article--the bread idea came from the young woman, not from the school. The whole thing sounds like a total mare's nest but boiling it down to a headline/ bumper sticker is ridiculous.

But we digress.

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PS

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That said, I agree with much of your assessment. The outreach programs that were whittled down/dismissed should be reinstated and strengthened for kids in first, second, third grade. Sixth is way too late.

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BPS statement

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Just updated the original post with a statement denying the story.

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I would say this probably illegal

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And discriminatory if it were to be implemented but we have METCO still humming along,so who knows.

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Paging Carmen Ortiz?

Peter Kadzis:

in the draft language of the proposal – a copy of which has been obtained by WGBH News – it would:

“Restrict exam school enrollment to students who were enrolled in at least the fifth and sixth grades in BPS elementary schools.”

The draft report is titled “BPS Strategic Implementation Plan 2016/Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force‏”.

Tommy Chang:

BPS does not have a report, in draft or final form, entitled: “BPS Strategic Implementation Plan 2016/Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force.” There are no proposals to prevent any students from enrolling into the district’s three exam schools.

Someone is lying. Either the document exists or it doesn't. I think it calls for a federal investigation.

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Take 3

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I've updated my post to include new statements from school officials and Mayor Walsh - and to note that even if the School Committee didn't talk about possible changes to the exam-school entrance process tonight, school officials have been talking about such changes for two years now.

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WGBH Article Updated

Peter Kadzis has updated his original article, still says the document exists, despite denials from the Superintendent and now the Mayor. The article headline is revised, and he now ends:

...if Mayor Walsh's statement is any indication, the recommendations from the supposedly non-existent document I wrote about will never come to pass.

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Scan the document

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WGBH should scan the document and post it (if it exists) If they can't prove it at this point then they have to let it go. No?

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Make sure BPS residents are sitting in the BPS seats

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If we want to open up more spaces in the Exam schools, I say we invest in investigations- track down the students that take up a seat at the schools and force them out - but only after invoicing the parents for the cost of the education they have received to date.
Non-residents abound at BLS - all it would take is to walk to the T with the groups of students and check out who stays on past the city limits- the Red Line to Quincy and the Green Line to Brookline and Newton.
In the 10 years I have been an exam school parent, I only know of two students that were asked to leave the school. There are many, many more. A South Shore friend of mine says he is surrounded by BLS branded attire on the early morning commute into the city.

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Nope- these are NOT the children of teachers

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These are non-residents. Nothing more. They live outside the city and pay taxes outside the city. The 2 students that I know that were kicked out of BLS lived on the South Shore and their parents worked in corporations. Good deal if you can get it.

It is commonly known among Quincy residents that many children go to BLS. Commonly known and not discussed publically.

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That's not right

And you are right, they should have to pay back the value of the stolen goods.

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They can't.

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You must be a resident of the City of Boston to attend the exam schools. Plenty of people live in very very small apartments (otherwise known as post office boxes) so that they will have a "valid" address, but if you are known, as ANY city worker is, to live outside the city limits, your child is not eligible.

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