The group representing mainly West Roxbury parents that sought to put the exam back in exam schools for the coming school year is asking a federal judge to reopen its case because of "clear racial motivation and anti-White racism" on the part of two School Committee members in text messages exchanged over the course of a nine-hour meeting on what to do about the Covid-19-forced cancellation of exams.
In its motion, filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence Corp., says the city deliberately withheld the "Westie whites" text messages in between members Lorna Rivera and Alexandra Oliver-Dávila in response to a public-records request, and that had the judges at two levels of the federal judiciary known about them, they never would have issued rulings that the non-exam system approved by the School Committee was free of racial bias and OK to use for the 2021-2022 school year.
The group acknowledges it's too late to go back to the exams for the coming school year, but says it wants a permanent injunction against the use of a system involving Zip codes for future years and to have a federal judge take a deeper look at what it says is "racial animus" at the highest levels of BPS.
These previously concealed text messages clearly reflect racial animus. And while such animus is not necessary for the Court to invoke strict scrutiny when evaluating the Zip Code Quota Plan, evidence showing such animus makes the case for strict scrutiny all the more compelling. Because the City concealed that evidence and deprived the Boston Parents and the Court from considering it, relief from the Court’s only partially-informed judgment is warranted. Unfortunately, the City’s conduct was uncovered too late for the Court to issue relief related to the requested preliminary injunction. But it is not too late for the other forms of relief the Boston Parents requested, including the permanent injunction barring any further use of the Zip Code Quota Plan,as well as relief specific to the families represented by the Boston Parents.
At the October School Committee meeting - which also led to the resignation of then School Committee Chairman Michael Loconto for mocking Asian-American names - the committee approved a system in which 20% of the seats at Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the John O'Bryant School would be offered to the Boston students with the highest pre-Covid-19 GPAs. The remainder would then be offered to students based on calculations by Zip code and GPAs, starting with Zip codes with the lowest family income levels.
Federal court rules require "extraordinary circumstances" for a judge to re-open a case after issuing a ruling. Throw in LoConto's mimicry, the group says, and you have those circumstances:
Three of the seven voting Committee Members - 43% of the Committee - are now on the record with statements of actual animus towards the two racial groups negatively impacted by the Zip Code Quota Plan. And those three Committee Members have all resigned over their comments. Actual racial animus among members of the Committee was far more prevalent than the Defendants initially represented to both the Boston Parents and the Court.
Although the committee voted to use the system for just the upcoming school year, it also agreed to have the task force that came up with the system to look at a more permanent way to ensure admission to the three schools did not cause racial inequities. That task force is now nearing a recommendation.