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City won’t reject resignations from BLS leaders

Faculty butt heads with mayor, superintendent after Boston Latin School administrators step down

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang.

Metro File

City leaders said Thursday they would not reject resignations from two top officials at the prestigious Boston Latin School.

Both BLS Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and then Malcolm Flynn, assistant headmaster, announced they would step down this week, amid scrutiny of the racial climate at the exam school that has included a student-led social media campaign and city and federal investigations.

Faculty had called on Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang not to accept their resignations, but Walsh said in a news conference that his administration was instead looking to the future.

“Our intention is to continue the greatness and excellence that happens at this school,” Walsh said. “As I said, even this year, a difficult year for a lot of people, 410 graduates graduated, the largest graduating class in the history of this school. The expectation is to keep up the strong rigor in this school.”

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At that point, Zita Cousins, a BLS guidance counselor, leaned in to the microphone he was using and announced: “We do not want the headmaster or Mr. Flynn to resign.”

Outside the school, faculty made a vocal stand, chanting, “BLS! BLS!”

Boston Globe reporter Meghan Irons tweeted it was a “crazy scene” as BLS faculty were “calling and cheering drowning out Walsh and [Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy] Chang.”

The spectacle came after a closed-door discussion inside the school that faculty told reporters was heated.

Some parents began circulating the mayor’s cell phone number urging others to pester him with the words: "What's the plan Marty? #WeAreBLS, " according to WGBH’s Peter Kadzis.

Speaking with reporters Thursday, Flynn reiterated his stance blaming on Walsh and Chang for how they responded to the allegations that surfaced this year, according to coverage in The Boston Herald.

Flynn, who has been an educator at the school for five decades, didn’t mince words in his resignation letter this week, writing that, “It is my belief that our school and our efforts here have been unfairly judged, for reasons that go well beyond the walls of BLS."

The swirl of controversy around BLS and its leadership started in January, when students Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeauwith a group called BLS BLACK (Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge) posted a video in which they were critical of the way the school has addressed complaints about racially charged incidents involving classmates and teachers.

Much of that criticism continued online, with commentary from those in the school community and outside it surfacing on Twitter via the hashtag#BlackatBLS.
Following Teta’s resignation, BLS BLACK wrotein a statement posted to Facebookon Tuesday that the group was “just as shocked as the general public” about the news.
“We want to emphasize that her decision is completely independent of the mission of the‪#‎ BlackAtBLSmovement which is to increase racial inclusion and race explicit dialogue at Boston Latin School,” the statement reads.

An investigation run by the School Department found BLS didn’t properly handle one incident, in which a non-black student threatened a black student and used a racial slur. It was one of seven reported cases the city investigated.

Another investigation led by the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is underway.

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