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More fallout from now infamous School Committee meeting: Member resigns over texts about 'Westie whites'

Update: West Roxbury state rep says chairwoman must resign as well.

The Globe reports Lorna Rivera has resigned her seat on the School Committee after learning texts she'd exchanged with another committee member during an October meeting on selecting exam-school students without an exam were being made public.

The Globe reports Rivera apologized profusely for bemoaning "Westie whites" in a text to another member at some point during the nine-hour meeting. Although the few Whites from West Roxbury who actually testified during the hearing spoke in favor of doing away with exams for at least the coming school year, 10 of the 14 families who claimed to have been damaged by the vote in a failed lawsuit against the one-year exam elimination were from West Roxbury.

According to the Globe, the member with whom she was texting - Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, who replaced Michael Loconto as chair after his resignation - agreed, texting "I hate WR." She has not resigned. Both questioned why the exchange was being leaked now.

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Comments

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Voting closed 31

When I saw the headline, I thought it might be the name of a rival gang to the Fruits & Veggies crew...

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Voting closed 45

Good riddance to a parochial thinker. While many, if not most, people fighting to change admissions to exam schools are coming from a goal of equity of opportunity, people like her are clearly looking to eject middle class kids from the system entirely.

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Voting closed 88

Because of their skin color? Very educated.
Do they need some Anti Racist training?

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Voting closed 138

Though I find Ms. Rivera's comments narrow minded and not befitting of a School Committee member, I wonder if, as a white person (and a male, to boot), my reaction would be considered "white fragility". I always thought I just wanted what was best for the children and the Boston Public Schools. One never knows what to think anymore. The thought police seem to have won.

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Voting closed 63

...if what you want is what you think is best for YOUR children, to the detriment of other children, then I think there are plenty of names for it. Not saying that's you, but 1)it happens a lot in public education, where a "crabs in a bucket" mentality takes over, and 2)the phrase "for the children" is used so often as a fig leaf for bad behavior that I hope anyone using it will take a moment to honestly question their own motives. And if you come up smelling like roses, hurray for you.

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Voting closed 31

The last refuse of the guilty, question motives.

Honestly I do not think what they said was all that awful. I also think the first guy was railroaded. The problem is they stood back and watched as he got slammed hard and they said nothing , knowing they were actively saying these things to each other during the meeting.

How about this. All school committee members should promise to be better. They also should not be expected to be removed for these sorts of random infractions.

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Voting closed 31

You don't have to be on the school committee so a bare minimum requirement should be to not view other city residents as enemies just based on their race, age, orientation of neighborhood. If she'd said 'I hate these Westie parents who filed the lawsuit', I have zero problem with her outside of a lack of civility. But she didn't do that so bye.

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Voting closed 80

Why include the “Westie”? How about just “I hate these parents who files the lawsuit”?

Generalizing is the problem. People should be judged by their actions, not their neighborhood.

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Voting closed 6

With Chinatown parents participating in the lawsuit? The predominately low-income, first-generation immigrant neighborhood experienced a 71% decrease in the number of exam school seats offered this year, the highest of any Boston neighborhood.

If the goal is really "equity" and if racial discrimination is really not intended, then why is it that low-income immigrants are being treated so poorly? Especially an immigrant group that is getting beaten up in the streets in large cities across the country?

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Voting closed 46

The word you want is "refuge".

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Voting closed 21

What is wrong with hating WR?

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Voting closed 43

My parents came here from Ireland over 50 years ago and enjoyed a fulfilling life. My siblings and I were happy with our upbringing and schooling.

Why hate WR? It's a wonderful town.

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Voting closed 60

I think you've stumbled upon the reason why they hate it.

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Voting closed 49

Whats your beef Dave?

If there's a question of diversity, yes, it's strikingly white. However, perhaps I am the fortunate outlier, I had Chinese neighbors on one side, Thai neighbors 2 doors down, Norweigans across the street (whoops, not diverse enough!) and then lots of Jews and a handful of Middle Eastern families.

If the 'CEAD MILE FAILTE' sign triggered you, keep walking bud.

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Voting closed 59

The many Latinx families that live in the apartments along Washington Street -- also a part of West Roxbury, whether these School Committee members like it or not.

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Voting closed 28

No.

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Voting closed 5

West Roxbury is not a town. Hyde Park is not a small town. They are in the city of Boston.

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Voting closed 52

Thank you Magellan.

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Voting closed 44

StillNotFromBoston

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Voting closed 16

Her shoulders and arms must ache after carrying that much water.

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Voting closed 27

Both questioned why the exchange was being leaked now.

More curious is how their private exchange got leaked in the first place. Were they texting each other on city-issued phones? If so, who was monitoring their communication?

edit: the Globe says they voluntarily gave the texts to the city for a records request, the Law Department redacted them, but someone leaked them to the press.

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Voting closed 38

I love that word, is it German for "hide this shit"?

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Voting closed 54

I'm astonished that someone so interested in public records has apparently never heard the word "redacted" before.

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Voting closed 13

Omg you again? I was trying to be a little humorous but I guess I failed.Maybe the site owner will redact my original comment?

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Voting closed 27

It was obvious you were joking.

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Voting closed 16

I guess the obviousness was not so obvious to lbb

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Voting closed 14

Why were these texts redacted? The Law Department needs to explain the exceptions to the public records law, and why these texts met one of the exceptions.

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Voting closed 37

Read the Globe article, they were omitted in a way that violates public records requirements:

"The district soon shared a transcript of dozens of messages, including some messages between Rivera and Oliver-Davila. However, the texts between the two women about West Roxbury were excluded. The document didn’t indicate that messages had been redacted."

...

"In Massachusetts, under public records law, agencies have a responsibility to tell the person who requested the records if anything has been redacted — and why, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition.

“The law works in a way where the requester is never — should never be — unaware that there is information missing,” he said.

Without knowing there has been information redacted, Silverman said, the requester won’t have the opportunity to appeal the decision to redact, another key right protected under the public records law."

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Voting closed 27

the fact that they got caught disparaging a part of the city and its residents instead of the fact that they are biased against certain people who live in the city? That's telling. I think it's time for them to go since they obviously are biased against certain Boston residents and don't want certain people from a certain neighborhood to have any say in BPS. This is also a reason for the exam school issue to be put on hold until the City can get a school committee that will advocate for ALL Boston students and their families.

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Voting closed 61

If they put in public records request for private texts on all politicians phones. None of them would have jobs.

None at all.

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Voting closed 26

Are the Asian-American families in the city, many (but not all) of whom live in Chinatown and West Roxbury. The only thing in common between Loconto's racist comments and these derogatory remarks is that they both target Asian-Americans, not whites, for wanting a good education for their children.

There's also strong evidence that these sentiments translated into similarly hurtful practices: according to BPS, under the "temporary" policy, Chinatown experienced a 71% drop in the number of exam school seats offered, despite the fact that all of the students there live in tenement housing and have non-English-speaking parents. Meanwhile, the predominantly middle-class (but still first-generation immigrant) Asian-Americans in WR faced a 50% drop in the number of exam school seats.

Apparently, "stop AAPI hate" is only a slogan that City Hall conveniently adapted from the national stage -- after all, it's the opposite of what Boston has done and is doing. It's quite unfortunate that there hasn't been a serious conversation about the role of Asian-Americans in the exam schools, especially at a time of historic anti-Asian sentiment in major cities across the country.

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Voting closed 53

Is the insinuation that any policy that reduces the number of Asian students at the exam schools a hate-based or inspired policy?

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Voting closed 26

More like envy based. It's like stealing. Not done out of hate usually.

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Voting closed 27

that someone "owns" a spot at an exam school and therein lies the problem -- that someone feels entitled to it in the first place.

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Voting closed 29

A spot at an "exam" school belongs to people who score well on the "exam". I think that is the concept anyway, that spots at exam schools "belong" to kids who score well on the exam.

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Voting closed 28

...if they have no prior connection to the school system and are parachuting in from the burbs.

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Voting closed 20

Or from another country. Right?

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Voting closed 21

Or from another country. Right?

I'm not sure if this is disingenuous or uninformed, or possibly something else. I do think that wealthy suburban lawyers whose children have heretofore been educated in private schools or in wealthy suburban districts should not be allowed to parachute their children in when they become of age to enter Boston Latin. This is altogether different from the case of immigration.
I think the purpose of a Boston public school is to educate the youth of Boston, and not those who have the experience and resources to game the system. Perhaps you disagree?

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Voting closed 16

Any child who resides in the city of Boston can take the test. What does a “prior connection to the school system” have to do with admission to exam schools.

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Voting closed 24

What does a “prior connection to the school system” have to do with admission to exam schools.

What's the purpose of an exam school? Why have one, if not to serve the students of Boston Public Schools?

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Voting closed 16

You mean the BPS system that doesn’t adequately prepare students for the exam schools? The schools are there to serve the children who reside in the city, not just BPS students.

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Voting closed 18

...public money should fund a school that accepts children who have had all the advantages and privileges money can buy, and who have opted out of public education up until this point, and whose parents establish "residency" by renting an apartment to serve as a shell address?

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Voting closed 15

I didn’t say anything about wealthy people with shell addresses. I said children who RESIDE in the city.

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Voting closed 18

There have been cases of parents who rented apartments, coincidentally right before they applied to BLS. Utility bills and all that. Kid was in residence at most part-time and would pursue regular activities in the burbs. Do you consider them to all-caps RESIDE in the city?

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Voting closed 7

Look up the definition of reside, that’s what I mean.

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Voting closed 13

Look up the definition of reside, that’s what I mean.

There are several definitions. Stop being coy: do you think that these people RESIDE in Boston, or not?

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Voting closed 5

I was “pissy” last week, now I’m “coy”. It is quite clear that I am talking about children whose primary residence is in Boston. I don’t know why you keep questioning my replies. I am not taking about people who get an address in order to apply to exam schools.

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Voting closed 13

The purpose of any public school in Boston is to serve the educational needs of the students of Boston. That means a kid that lives in Boston and is in a parochial school or charter school this year could be a student at a Boston Public Schools school next year.

How does it work with the regional school district you send your kids to?

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Voting closed 4

1. Parochial schools are not public schools. They may accept all comers, but that does not make them public schools. Google "establishment clause".
2. Charter schools are public schools. They're also bad policy. They siphon money from public education. We'd be better off without them.
3. My regional school district does not have any exam schools. Does that answer your question?

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Voting closed 12

A few points that have nothing to do with what Waquoit said.
1. He didn’t say parochial schools are public, just that the students could apply/attend BPS schools.
2. Didn’t say charter schools are private, just that their students can apply/attend BPS schools.
3. Didn’t ask about exams. Can students in your district apply to the public school system if they previously attended a parochial school or charter (of your district has them)?

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Voting closed 12

You replied better than I could.

One could spend third grade in a charter or parochial school, but then the decision is made to transfer to the public schools for the fourth grade. Same thing with going from the sixth to seventh or eighth to ninth. It's just that there is a big issue with that sixth to seventh grade move.

It still is fascinating that people outside of Boston (and in the case well outside of Boston) seem to think they understand education in Boston better than Bostonians do.

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Voting closed 14

It still is fascinating that people outside of Boston (and in the case well outside of Boston) seem to think they understand education in Boston better than Bostonians do.

Let me disabuse you of the notion that I didn't live in Boston for a significant period of time, and don't know anything about education in Boston, or about educational issues such as charter schools and exam schools. You're like a new parent who thinks that no one who doesn't have children can possibly know anything about them -- or, as they say in the martial arts, "Nobody knows more about karate than a green belt. Just ask one."

Anyone can make fair claim to "understanding education" better than someone like you whose response to a real problem - suburban kids parachuting into a Boston exam school - is dewy-eyed disingenuousness. You don't want to grapple with the problem? Fine with me -- as you never fail to point out, it's not my kid getting screwed over. Reap what you sow, Waquoit.

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Voting closed 11

The school department has employees that investigate this. Honestly, the registration requirements have seemed a bit too much in my opinion. Because of this supposed rampant fraud, the school department refuses to change a child's address in the system despite the fact that school officials have made repeated home visits. In any normal system, a home visit would verify an address. The consequences are that official school mail stop getting to the parent, also no bus or tpass.

I knew a family that moved to Milton, but never transferred the kids to Milton public schools because their visit to school department office was too intimidating. Those kids went to nonexam BPS schools.

If you are aware of a specific parachuter, here is procedure:

Investigation and enforcement
The School Committee has approved extensive residency investigation and enforcement strategies, including:

Employment of a residency investigator to pursue cases of suspected residency fraud;
Random residency audits and spot-checks of out-of-city MBTA train stations; and
A Residency Tip Line (617-635-9609) for families, staff, and students to report possible residency violations.
Any family under investigation may be required to present additional proofs of residency beyond those outlined above.

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Voting closed 19

They appear to know a lot more about Boston schools than we do.

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Voting closed 14

Why did the city legal department selectively redact the offensive comments? The Globe filed a FOIA but the city withheld relevant communications

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Voting closed 29

I'm not sure this is correct, and I hope there is a lot more reporting on this, but it may be that the Mass. public records law (state FOIA) covers communications made in a public capacity and the City Law department (or whomever made this decision) decided that these comments were made in a private capacity and therefore not responsive.

Typically you do not redact non-responsive documents. You redact documents that are responsive but cannot be produced for another reason, such as a privilege.

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Voting closed 14

I missed this somehow. Were the text messages made on work phones?

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Voting closed 15

The lawsuit might have some merit after all. Three members of the School Committee openly expressing racial animus?

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Voting closed 49

That was the disaster right there.

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Voting closed 25

Someone (maybe the Superintendent, or maybe Marty Walsh himself) decided to leave only two weeks between the time BPS announced the proposal and the time the School Committee would vote on it. During those two weeks, there were no public comment sessions -- only information sessions where the public could only ask questions about the proposal. It's not rocket science to figure out that such a drastic proposal would spark tons of public comment, resulting in a 9 hour meeting even after limiting "the general public" to 2 minutes each (while allowing commenters with no connection to the district, like Dr. Kendi, the opportunity to have a written comment read out loud with no time limit whatsoever).

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Voting closed 11

She may not have been far off the target.

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Voting closed 17