US Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced today her office will investigate allegations of civil-rights violations at Boston Latin School. In a statement, she said:
We will conduct a thorough investigation into the recent complaints about racism at BLS and will go where the facts lead us. Once our investigation is complete, we will share our findings at the appropriate time. I want to thank Mayor Walsh and Superintendent Chang who have pledged their full cooperation in this independent investigation.
The investigation will focus on charges by several groups, including the ACLU, the Boston chapter of the NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice about racial harassment and discrimination, which the groups say include, but also go beyond, the allegations reviewed by BPS.
School Superintendent Tommy Chang, meanwhile, told WGBH - in an interview conducted before Ortiz's statement - that he has begun looking at ways to increase black and Latino enrollment at the nation's oldest public school without reinstituting the quotas ended after a white father sued.
Chang said one possibility is to expand the entrance criteria to include such factors as community service and entrance interviews, rather than relying solely on a student's elementary-school grades and results on the ISEE tests.
However, he added he is also looking at a dramatic increase in the number of "advanced work" classes in fourth and fifth grades as a way of preparing more students for the test; the current AWC program is often seen as a conduit to BLS and the city's other two exam schools.
He told WGBH that since the end of quotas, enrollment of blacks and Latinos at BLS has gone down, even as their percentage of the overall BPS and city populations have increased.