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Mission Hill School parents irate at being left in dark as BPS removes two teachers

At a school already roiling over the way its two co-leaders were put on leave just before the start of the school year, parents at the Mission Hill K-8 School in Jamaica Plain now have to wonder why BPS removed two grade 5 and 6 teachers one recent Friday afternoon.

Parents could demand answers to what's going on - and to the question of whether BPS is now trying to dismantle the school - during the public-comment period in this afternoon's School Committee meeting.

In an online petition demanding meetings and answers, parents say BPS administrators have refused to give them any answers - even as they kept parents in the dark on the afternoon of Sept. 10, when the two teachers were removed.

"BPS did not inform families of this action in any way -- keeping parents in the dark even as students returned to school on Monday," the petition states, adding that with the removals, "there are no longer any lead teachers of color above the kindergarten level." BPS did not respond to e-mail from Universal Hub about the two teachers.

Last month, just before school started,, BPS put Mission Hill co-leaders Geralyn McLaughlin and Jenerra Williams on paid leave as it investigated the way a gender-non-conforming student was allegedly bullied for several years.

That coincided with BPS agreeing to a $650,000 settlement with parents of students who say the school did nothing to keep one young student from repeatedly sexually assaulting and bullying their children, also students at the school.

Both sets of incidents happened during the administration of then school Principal Ayla Gavins.

The petition adds:

Given how little communication there has been from the district, we cannot help but see this as a strategy to undo our participatory, community-run school.

We fear that BPS may be working to destabilize the school in order to close it.

The articles that have appeared in the press do not fully capture the diverse, passionate, and caring school that our children attend.



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I understand the frustration but if the school sheltered a kid with behavioral problems at the expense of other students, that's more than just the leadership team and needed to be addressed. The optics of no black teachers is bad but if this is related to what happened to those kids, who gives a fuck about demographics? Are teachers immune from consequences for their inactions/actions due to quotas? Please, that's absurd.

Voting closed 51

Except the school is being silent on why they were let go, so it could be totally unrelated to that. As of now it just looks like the school let go of their only black teachers above kindergarten and are not giving any rationale.

From a school that CLEARLY already has issues, it's not a good look and I see why people would be concerned.

Voting closed 6

It could also be the school can't disclose why they were let go until an investigation or grievance process is complete, least the school be accused of defamation.

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But pretty much any employer with remotely competent legal counsel isn't going to publicly comment on personnel matters unless there is ironclad evidence to back them up or a court decision supporting them in the matter.

Voting closed 43

it looks bad!

Voting closed 6

It is not accurate to say that the school has been silent about the reasons for their actions. I distinctly recall that, in a community meeting a few weeks ago, the Superintendent gave a long list of reasons--of horrible things that have happened at the school--for actions they had taken taken, and they told us that the this was a continuing investigation. BPS has said that they had taken and would take corrective actions based on the results of their investigations, and it seems now that four personnel have been placed on leave. They were also clear that they couldn't give the public specifics about personnel matters.

We know why this is happening, and if you have spent any time in the Mission Hill community over the last eight years asking questions and listening thoughtfully to your fellow community members who had to leave the school for their children's safety, then you know far more. But you merely want to dismiss the victims in this scenario and are rallying to the abuser. By implying racism, you are unacceptably appropriating a serious issue for your own benefit. It does a disservice to everyone involved, and it does a disservice to the cause of those who are fighting actual racism.

Given what has been reported about sexual assaults, violent physical assaults, and bullying, how is it that your knee-jerk reaction is to ignore all of these awful realities and the children who endured them while you flatly imply that BPS must be engaging is a racist campaign against teachers at the Mission Hill School? It is time for you to step up and to believe victims and to fight for accountability for those who have been harmed.

Voting closed 52

At no point did I say the dismissals were racist, or that we shouldn't believe the victims. Just that the general public doesn't know what roles these teachers may or may not have had.

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Yes, but now you are playing semantic games. The fact remains that you (and the petition, for that matter) completely ignored both the victims and the harm that they suffered; you (and the petition) focus on defending and protecting the institution that caused and allowed the harms; and you (and the petition) imply that BPS's action is racist.

Your failure to acknowledge the victims and the harms, together with your unwillingness to support accountability measures, is, in and of itself, indicative of your failure to believe them. If you did believe that these horrific things actually happened to children, you would not be ignoring their plight and you would not be defending the Mission Hill School.

Right now, in real time, with real children who suffered real harm, you are not supporting accountability. Instead, you are defending the people and the institution who caused their harm and calling into question the very accountability process intended to address what they suffered.

Voting closed 32

That couldn't be less of my intention, but I appreciate your point of view. I'm not as familiar with the situation as you are. I think the school was clearly in the wrong in many areas here, and the victims should be believed first and foremost.

Voting closed 16

Except you are ignoring the fact that BPS has blundered the Handling of this situation and 2 5/6 classes have no qualified SPED certified lead teacher.

And don’t know how many kids on IEPs are not getting services they are legally entitled to because they pulled the learning coaches to teach the classes.

These kids are suffering too. They are confused pick up on the stress and not liking school.

How is this an answer??? Do you really know think bullying will be controlled when there is NO ONE in charge?


Voting closed 14

The problem is not that the school fired the only black teachers who are above kindergarten, full stop. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that it would be fine to fire a Latino teacher because you had 'enough of those on staff.

The actual issue you should want to discuss is that there aren't enough black teachers at the school so there were only two above kindergarten- which is a fair, valid issue. However that has fuck all to do with the situation if (and it is a big, conjecture laden if) these teachers had anything to do with prioritizing the kid with behavioral issues over his classmates that he assaulted. That's inexcusable.

If you care about how it looks and not the reasons why, what are you even doing...

Voting closed 8

I didn't wordsmith my comments enough, I agree with you.

Voting closed 11

Feels like there's another shoe to drop and it's going to be a heavy one?

Voting closed 39

Everybody calm down and look in the mirror, we have the school system we allowed the mayor and city council to create. Well, okay, it was only 25% of us.

Voting closed 16

'm shocked, shocked, to find that malpractice is going on in BPS.

Voting closed 14

Another misunderstanding by the Superintendent, much like misunderstanding her licensing requirements.

Voting closed 14