Boston schools system investigating complaints that top Black administrators are being forced out

Current and former administrators claim Boston Public Schools' discharge efforts concentrated on administrators of color close to the top of the managerial structure who supported Black students.

The Boston public school system is investigating complaints accusing the district of ousting top administrators of color.

According to The Bay State Banner, current and former administrators at Boston Public Schools’ central office claim the district has used its disciplinary process to fire at least a dozen successful Black leaders in recent years.

Boston public schools system
The Boston public schools system has allegedly fired a dozen top Black administrators in recent years. (Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Public Schools)

Ruby Reyes, director of the Boston Education Justice Alliance, noted in a 2022 op-ed that two senior administrators in charge of hiring Black and Latino administrators were on administrative leave near the start of the school year.

However, BPS spokesperson Max Baker told theGrio the district has made progress in recruitment, pointing the fact that individuals of color comprise most of Superintendent Mary Skipper’s executive leadership team. For example, he noted that most of the new educators hired this school year have been Black and brown people.

Among many other recruiting initiatives, its recruitment team is organizing informational sessions this fall for students from HBCUs and Latinx-serving schools nationwide interested in becoming teachers.

“Our District must continue to recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our young people,” Baker told theGrio. “We must be vigilant and intentional about monitoring the data on educator retention, recruitment, and staff discipline of our employees of color.”

According to The Banner, Sophia Hall, deputy litigation director at Lawyers for Civil Rights, asserted that the departure of administrators of color from a district that has a history of racism-related problems raises her suspicion.

“It really is shocking to see about a dozen high-ranking employees of color be pushed out all within a relatively short time frame,” Hall said. “It really raises a lot of red flags.”

The accusations against the school system come two years after a jury awarded Charles Sherman Neal, the sole Black male instructor at the Boston Community Leadership Academy, $1.7 million. The Associated Press reported that Neal sued the district after he said it fired him in retaliation for raising concerns about workplace discrimination.

The Banner reported that a group of 15 former BPS workers who had all resigned before and independently of the alleged targeting wrote a letter on Aug. 24, 2022, expressing their concerns regarding administrative turnover.

The “concerned educators of color” raised awareness of a trend in which people of color were frequently the topic of investigatory meetings and put on administrative leave while investigations were ongoing.

Barbara Fields, one of the individuals who signed the letter and a member of the Black Educators’ Alliance of Massachusetts, said there has long been a pattern of racism in the district. However, she described the increased rate of claimed targeting and more senior officials confronting it as a new pattern.

The “concerned educators of color” anticipated their letter would be well-received and taken seriously.

Last fall, Skipper retained the services of outside attorney Natashia Tidwell for an investigation. She responded to the concerned educators’ letter by stating she was committed to giving workers a clear explanation of their rights at the outset of a disciplinary process.

However, the length of Tidwell’s probe has raised worries from many involved, the Banner reported. The fact that Tidwell doesn’t appear to have contacted the impacted administrators or anybody else directly connected to the matter further raises questions.

Baker noted that the investigation is ongoing, but the Boston School Committee will receive the findings before the 2023–24 academic year begins. The last meeting before the start of the school year is Aug. 30.

“Superintendent Skipper will continue to make the investments needed to support and advance our current and future Black and brown educators and leaders,” he told theGrio.

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