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School Committee chairwoman resigns

Alexandra Oliver-Davila

Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced Alexandra Oliver-Dávila's resignation this afternoon, the day after School Committee member Lorna Rivera resigned over text messages the two exchanged impugning white parents from West Roxbury.

In a statement, Janey called their text messages "unfortunate," but added that she understands why the two made the comments they did, in the middle of a nine-hour hearing on exam-school admissions after they'd gotten death threats over the issue:

I respect and support the decisions of Alexandra Oliver-Davila and Dr. Lorna Rivera to resign as members of the Boston School Committee. Ms. Oliver-Davila and Dr. Rivera have been dedicated stewards of the committee and passionate advocates for Boston families. Their private remarks, which were recently made public, were unfortunate and unfairly disparaged members of the Boston Public Schools community. As women of color who advocate for racial equity in our schools, I also understand their comments were made in the wake of death threats and unacceptable racist attacks that were frightening, offensive, and painful. As their time on the school committee ends, their work to lift up equity in Boston Public Schools must continue.

In her resignation letter, Oliver-Dávila her life as a girl and teen, getting spit on, threatened with physical violence and being called a 'spic' - and said all those feelings came rushing back during the nine-hour meeting on exam-school admissions:

During the School Committee meeting on October 22, I felt transported back to my youth as members of the public delivered testimony that was in many instances directly racist in nature, comments that were meant to portray students like me, like my daughter, as 'other' or as someone not worthy of the exam school seats, or as taking an exam school seat away from their rightful owners. It was painful. And in the heat of the moment, it caused me to vent by sending inappropriate personal text messages to one of my colleagues. I regrettably allowed myself to do what others have done to me. I failed my own standards in this private exchange. These messages matched the sharpness of what was being delivered via public testimony this night.

Janey thanked the two for their service, then added:

As a Black woman, I know that racism hurts. The rocks and racial slurs thrown at me as a child left a lasting impression. I believe we can only heal the wounds of bigotry when we find the courage to call it out and commit to the shared work of dismantling structural racism.

The shared experience of Ms. Oliver-Davila and Dr. Rivera, and their decision to step down, amplifies the need for meaningful dialog and important work we must do as a city to address racism. Sadly, their departure also leaves a void in Latina leadership on our school committee that I am determined to address.

Equity in Boston Public Schools cannot wait. As Mayor, I am committed to advancing the equity agenda that is now underway. That includes proceeding with a vote on exam school admissions this summer. I am also committed to preserving Latinx representation on our school committee. I am working to immediately begin the application process for new school committee members to lead the next chapter of equity and opportunity in our schools.

Oliver-Dávila, also executive director of Sociedad Latina, had served on the School Committee since 2016. She became chairwoman following Michael Loconto's resignation the day after the same meeting.

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Comments

This city has so much work to do to confront racism and find a way to treat each other better.

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Racially devisive lessons being pushed on kids! Some of them seem to support Oliver-Dávila's sentiment!

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...is this an anti-CRT rant?

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What racially divisive lessons are being pushed on kids in BPS?

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Wait, are they teaching complex legal theories in K-12 schools now?

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^Never forget this very important point.

You treat people how you want to be treated and white Bostonians treated everyone like shit for a very long time. This is why they have a reputation not only locally but throughout the United States and the WORLD for being "westie whites".

Two wrongs don't make a right, and you're right... the city has much healing to do-but let's not act like her prejudices came out of left field or arent shared by many if not most POC.

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Voting closed 85

Where's the evidence, Mayor Janey? The comments are public, so why not release them and let the public judge? And if there were really "death threats", why hasn't the city initiated a police investigation to ensure that appointed officials are not physically harmed?

This fact-free blame-shifting is starting to sound Trumpian...

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Voting closed 81

The comments are public, so why not release them and let the public judge?

Perhaps because the matter is still being investigated?

And if there were really "death threats", why hasn't the city initiated a police investigation to ensure that appointed officials are not physically harmed?

How do you know it hasn't?

This fact-free blame-shifting is starting to sound Trumpian...

Oh, you ARE droll.

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Interesting timing on this as usual in politics.

Oliver-Dávila is a minority owner in a cannabis dispensary seeking approval to open a shop on Terrace Street in Roxbury. Oliver-Dávila was brought in to partner with former State Rep Jeffrey Sanchez in order to make up a majority minority stake ownership group.

During a recent Mission Hill neighborhood meeting she inferred that the community opposition to this license application was due to racism from the people that live in the neighborhood. I believe the hearing for this license is coming up this week.

I wonder how these recent incidents will affect the Cannabis Control Commissions ruling on the application. Stand by...

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Nika! is pretty far to my left but still an upgrade as my rep from that clown. Of course he's in the cannabis racket with his hand out for some favors.

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You do not mean that she inferred it, you mean that she implied it. Get your innuendos straight.

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Janey should keep quiet instead of condoning racist behaviour. She voices understanding for this pair's racism in the face of a toxic discussion. Meanwhile she vilified her police commissioner over the way he reacted in the face of a toxic spouse.

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Very impressed with her statement refocusing on the work and away from the scandal. Between this and Wu's recent comments regarding the search for a police commissioner, I'm starting to lean Janey instead of Wu.

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Wu is just too NIMBY. That's my only issue with her.

I don't find Janey very impressive technically but I think we need a Black Bostonian who has gone through busing for our reputation, for equity, but also for scenarios like these.

I 100% believe she is dedicated to doing the RIGHT thing not the easy thing. And I don't think you can care more about the city than 5th generation Bostonian, sorry Wu- you're great in your own right.

Janey has been dealt scandal after scandal unfairly and has handled it all with real aptitude

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Janey has been dealt scandal after scandal unfairly

Janey’s close association with Diane Wilkerson isn’t something she has been dealt unfairly; it is a conscious set of choices she has made, and it reflects on her character, values, and judgment.

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Janey is over her head. No experience and it’s showing.
I disagree with her statement. It was a completely racist and she certainly did not condemn it.

Janey’s statement is divisive. How about making all people accountable for what they say or write. How about we collectively ask people to do the next right thing.

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"As women of color who advocate for racial equity in our schools, I also understand their comments were made in the wake of death threats and unacceptable racist attacks that were frightening, offensive, and painful."

Death threats and unacceptable racist attacks? Do we have a source? Was there a police report filed? An investigation conducted?

We need to get to the bottom of these allegations

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According to yesterday's Globe article, police did evaluate and investigate the death threats.

Since February, Rivera has received a barrage of threatening messages and hateful social media attacks after an erroneous news report was amplified by right-wing media personalities falsely claiming that BPS was suspending advanced work classes because the majority of students enrolled in them were white and Asian. The harassment was such that she filed a Boston Police report and a UMass security report. “One was deemed a viable death threat,” Rivera said.

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Not the first time I've heard about women of color in public positions receiving death threats from West Roxbury residents in the last few months. Having fun reading all of the comments in these stories about how somebody sending a text message to their friend about "Westie whites" is the real problem though.

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"since February". The meeting where these texts were sent took place in October 2020 -- in other words, her hate speech came before the messages.

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She made the comments in October, yet she started getting threats in February? Not to diminish death threats (horrible), but the time line doesn’t add up.

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after an erroneous news report was amplified by right-wing media personalities falsely claiming that BPS was suspending advanced work classes

That false reporting that led to to the threats happened in February.

The original text of the Globe story had an embedded link to this AP story about the false reporting: https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-afs:Content:9985050026

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In October, when the offensive texts were traded, she was not subject to threats that may have colored her thinking. She was just suffering from the same fatigue that did LoConto in, that being a marathon Zoom meeting.

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Ha! What a Shmuck.

Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda

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So typical.

She said:
It's a shame I got caught being a racist and had to resign and
it's partly other racists fault I said what I said.

That is the gist of it in my opinion,

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The light that bounces off of Magoo’s skin and into one’s eye varies. Magoo can’t say that Magoo is white black brown red or green. Some parts of Magoo are a bit pasty. Other parts of Magoo are reddish while other parts are brownish. Magoo is Magoo and Magoo luvs yoo whatever color yoo doo. Magoo.

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Has Janey made any statement into the investigation over why the texts were first held back, and then leaked?

That's the real scandal here. Actual city employees abusing their job.

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I hope she does address this. Seems like Marty left more than one mess behind for others to clean up.

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that you can find thread after thread on just UHub alone about us ALL complaining about how West Roxbury residents are NIMBYs, overly uppity, privileged and problematic, but a latina woman who has experienced TRUE racism - because let's be very clear, this is not true racism - says "westie whites" while venting about them literally trying to uphold a systemically racist school system and everyone is up in arms about it. No, her choice of words weren't great and apologies are deserved. But let's not act like it's like calling someone the N-word or spic, which she literally said she was called by white people from Boston. The city and the country has A LONG way to go to make amends between races but it just really feels like white people are taking this instance and running with it because they finally have a "aha look! You people do it too!" moment. We should stick to the issue at hand, a test that was deemed racist by our highest courts and how to create equity FOR ALL. Usually I stay out of this crap but the comments and likes were disgusting me go be quite frank.

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One can reasonably criticize West Roxbury residents for being "overly uppity" or privileged or NIMBYs without bringing their race into the conversation. Someone in a role like School Committee chair really should know better.

As the cliche goes, two wrongs don't make a right. Someone who has been the target of racism or bigotry should understand how it feels -- and not engage in the same sort of behavior! It's even more troubling that both of these women felt comfortable with engaging in this sort of conversation via text while conducting their official duties.

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So if the group you're accusing of being racist is entirely white in a neighborhood that's not, then is it okay to point out the pattern?

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Between accusing a handful of parents of being racist and making the comment "Sick of Westie whites." The latter is out-and-out bigotry and incredibly unfair, especially when the white parents from West Roxbury who spoke at the meeting were apparently in favor of the School Committee's plan.

People in roles like School Committee members have the responsibility to be better.

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"Westie Whites" pretty obviously refers to a specific brand of white ppl who consider themselves residents of WESTIE, not of Boston, who think living in the same neighborhood for 50 years makes them entitled to dictate rules for anyone who's lived there a day less, who take over local political parties and sweep in a whole slate of far-right, traitor-enabling crazies. Anybody who lives in Westie knows who I'm talking about, and if you don't, maybe you should look in the mirror.

White people who the above description does not apply to are not the ones being complained about and need to chill their tits. This is like when women complain about getting catcalled and concern trolls roll in with BUT NOT ALL MEN?? If it doesn't apply to you, why you so bothered?

And for the record I live in Westie. I 100% agree with her about the capital-W white people here.

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There is never an excuse to generalize based on race, and I do think an apology is warranted, but lets not pretend this rises to anywhere near the same level of belittlement and childishness of a bunch of white people sitting around in a public forum making fun of last names that are ethnically different than their own. They are not equivalent and they shouldn't be treated as such.

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Guess what? Neither is OK!

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"I hate people from {some group}" is a phrase most Americans use frequently. It's so common that it's surprising when someone gets called on it, not that they said it.

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officials appointed by a mayor of Boston. As appointed officials, they do have to adhere to a higher standard whether they like it or not. If they were "off the clock" and hanging out having drinks and said what they said, I wouldn't care so much. But they were "on the clock" and during a school committee meeting, where they are supposed to be paying attention to what is being said, they were instead texting back and forth about hating certain residents of the city that they are tasked with helping educate.This exchange showed that they had no desire whatsoever to listen to some Boston residents during that meeting.
The entrance exam was NOT deemed racist by the courts. The judge ruled that BPS could go ahead with admissions this year ONLY without an exam because of covid and because time was running out for issuing acceptances. The issue with the exam is that some kids get tutored for it. So it seems the most logical answer would be to offer tutoring to all BPS students and those students who cannot afford tutoring otherwise. But before this whole no test fiasco started, BPS had already agreed to use a test that is aligned with BPS curriculum so that if students are learning what they need to learn in class, they should do fine on the test.

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Pathetic excuse of a statement regarding this incident compared to her comments regarding Michael Loconto.

She's basically rationalizing her comments.

This must be part of Janey's All Inclusive Boston campaign!

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WR residents get their own HS. But they can’t send anyone to Latin. Alexandra gets her job back, she doesn’t have to work with those pos WR people and we move on.

Basically North Dedham High.

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West Roxbury secedes from Boston to join Dedham. As part of the break-up deal, Boston would (at the minimum) rebuild the WREC to modern standards -- after all, the city did allow it to deteriorate until it was no longer safe.

This will also help rationalize the fact that the T charges $6.50 for the Commuter Rail instead of the $2.40 for a slow bus + Orange Line, since West Roxbury will now be part of a suburb. As an added bonus, secession solves the issue of the Centre Street road diet for once and for all.

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SXSE Newton High?

Still leaves Adam's Rozzie neighbors in a bind. He and they are mostly white and Asian (aka not people of color) so they're by her definition racists too. Just maybe not as legalistic.

Can they get a HighROZZ?

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And Roslindale, too, since your comment shows you don't really know anything about the neighborhood.

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Let’s not get carried away here. Dedham is more WR style.

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This is the crazy thing is that all of this anger and vitriol is directed against white parents who are actually willing to trust BPS with their children's education. If they had any interest in a welcoming and diverse school system, they wouldn't refer to "Westie Whites" as the enemy.

This entire episode basically confirms my choice (as a white parent who sends his kids to a highly diverse minority majority urban school district nearby) that my choice to avoid BPS was totally justified. If the district leadership is hostile to middle class white families, why stay in the system?

And I can't believe the way she is trying to justify herself. Like some white people were very mean to her in the past (which I totally believe), but that makes it okay to hate these white people who are completely different and stakeholders in a system that she has power over.

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I wish she hadn't apologized, and had instead doubled down on her statement.

The fact of the matter is white parents from West Roxbury are entitled and believe these seats belong to their children. The new and temporary process is "robbing" them of what belongs to them. They know their children do better on standardized testing and that once grade point averages, interviews, teacher recommendations or any other metrics other than that one test is put into the mix they lose.

Boston Latin school is not currently getting the best and brightest students in the city. They're getting the best students at passing this one stupid test.

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Boston Latin school is not currently getting the best and brightest students in the city. They're getting the best students at passing this one stupid test.

And yet BLS has been consistently ranked one of the top public high schools in MA and the US. I think that shows the students there are pretty bright.

Do people realize that students take tests in school too? Are we supposed to get rid of all tests now?

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And yet BLS has been consistently ranked one of the top public high schools in MA and the US. I think that shows the students there are pretty bright.

Or that their parents are well-educated.

Do people realize that students take tests in school too? Are we supposed to get rid of all tests now?

I mean if we were actually interested in doing what the research suggests, that's exactly what we would do. There is little correlation between testing and educational outcomes, and it definitely makes things more unpleasant for the students.

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Students who perform well on these tests are not bad students.

However, these tests, which are given for the sake of giving a test and serve no other purpose, do not indicate anything about the academic merits of those who do not receive the highest scores on that test.

And BLS is a good high school. No one is disputing that the students walking into that school are able to receive top notch educational experience. But that does not mean that other students who are not afforded the opportunity to attend BLS could not also perform just as well at BLS.

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I have a sibling who attended Latin and there is no way I could have cut it there, I was a good student but seeing the workload difference and what was studied...I'd be lost.
I think the test is a good indicator of whoi is more likely to succeed there..

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No one is disputing that the students walking into that school are able to receive top notch educational experience.

I think this is far from a sure thing. It is notoriously difficult to distinguish "the school is good" from "the student gets a great education from their educated parents" especially with the ways we're measuring it.

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They pass the test and have to maintain good grades as BLA, BLS and O’Bryant students. They don’t keep you around just bc you scored well on an entrance exam.

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Some of these parents might be better off sending their kids to some of the less competitive high schools in the system where their kids rise to the top, instead of this overrated school where they all just blend in.

But what do I know.

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I'm sure they said things that many people of all different socio-economic backgrounds have said about others - their stupid asses just got caught is all.

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It should be as it was a long time ago. Nevermind areas - kid passes test, kid is offered seat at said school (s) & that's that.

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And hasn't been for decades.

First, it wasn't just the test that determined if you got into one of the exam schools, it was a combination of the test and grades.

But let's talk about just the test.

People in West Roxbury have traditionally either paid for Stanley Kaplan-like private classes and tutors to train their kids on the ISEE or the kids went to the free test prep program BLS offered.

Private tutors? You think parents with kids who go to, oh, the Trotter or Orchard Gardens can afford private prep classes, if they even know about them? If they even know their kids might be eligible to apply for an exam school?

So there's the free program at BLS, right? No. Oh, it's great. I know because our daughter took that and maybe it helped her get into BLS.

But here's the thing: We found out about it because she went to the Kilmer (yes, in West Roxbury, we were lucky in the school lottery the year she was eligible for kindergarten) and we got told about it. The Kilmer, at the time (and maybe still) one of the few elementary schools in the city with majority white enrollment, was good like that. But for years, the employee at the Boston Latin School Association who was in charge of the test prep program went out of his way to NOT try to get the word out in the city's Black and Brown neighborhoods. It took the Black at BLS scandal back in 2016 to finally get BPS to realize what was going on and to try to fix that.

So let's not pretend that until this year, there was some lovely, purely meritocratic system in use here. It was a rigged system biased against poor minority kids.

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Obviously I'm showing my age here. All I know is, I am a black female and as a 6th grader, living in Dorchester, took the exam school test. Scored well enough to be offered seats at each. I know nothing of them considering your grades back then - I was 12.

I just know I worked hard in school, studied hard because my mother insisted on that. My school asked my mother in 2nd and 4th grade to skip me but she refused both times saying she wanted me to stay within my age group.

I don't keep up with what all has changed since then. I just know back then I had classmates from all over Boston, who took the test and were offered seats as well.

Were there more Asian students than other races? Absolutely. But there was a good mix otherwise.

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That's a big accusation Adam:

"But for years, the employee at the Boston Latin School Association who was in charge of the test prep program went out of his way to NOT try to get the word out in the city's Black and Brown neighborhoods."

Do you have a source or evidence to back your allegation? Do you have a name of the employee? This needs investigation. Don't you agree?

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The Globe wrote about it, when they started devoting a fair amount of resources to looking at BLS enrollment after the Black at BLS story broke (right here on little UHub).

And so recruitment efforts ended and the Exam School Initiative continued solely as a test preparation course. Giordano stopped visiting elementary schools to explain the exam school system and his program stopped reaching out to black and Latino students.

I don't think he was evil or anything, he was, in fact, much loved within BLS, but the fact remains the parents of kids in schools that were in certain parts of the city were never even told about this free test prep program.

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You could not have said it any better. There cannot be equity until more parents/people like you begin to acknowledge their privilege.

The current system benefits them. Why go against a flawed system that benefits your children??

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.

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Yet again, we prove Saturday Night Live's opinion of Boston to be accurate.

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