A group of high school students who have chosen to stay on the Boston Student Advisory Council as some of their peers resigned last week and accused an adult supervisor of psychological abuse called Sunday for significant changes to the council, including the supervisor’s resignation.
About a dozen of the 49 high school leaders on the advisory council had resigned as of Saturday, students said. On Saturday district officials said they were aware of six resignations.
Those who remained said Sunday they recognized the opportunity the council gave them to make their voices heard.
“We have a vision for the future that will allow us to continue the work we have been doing while removing the barriers that have silenced us,” students wrote in a statement released Sunday. “Others may want to burn BSAC to the ground but when the fire dies out and the smoke clears we will be here to build it with the new materials that didn’t fit with the old structure.”
Dorion Levy, an advisory council member, confirmed Sunday night that the statement, which was posted on Twitter, came from students who are staying on the council and want to reform it.
They demanded that Jenny Sazama, whose nonprofit Youth on Board runs the council in partnership with Boston Public Schools, resign; that BPS end its partnership with Youth on Board; that trained therapists be brought in to replace re-evaluation counseling, a controversial, peer-based therapy students who had resigned from the board likened to a cult; and more agency in setting agendas and choosing which issues they work on.
In the statement, remaining members said they respected the decisions of the students who resigned from the board, but that most of the remaining students believe the board “has the potential to do immense good for students and families.”
Boston Public Schools officials said they received the council’s message and are planning to meet with its members.
“Our team has spent the weekend talking to students and their families and will continue those conversations early this week to outline next steps,” district spokesman Jonathan Palumbo said in an e-mail Sunday night.
The students’ statement came after a tumultuous few days for the student council. On Thursday, Khymani James, a Boston Latin Academy senior, resigned from his role as the Boston School Committee’s student representative and as a member of the Boston Student Advisory Council. He said administrators had repeatedly silenced him, that district leaders were “racist and adultist” in their treatment of him and other students, and that he had major concerns about Youth on Board.
On Saturday, James and a group of students who resigned from the board told reporters some members of the advisory council felt pressured to participate in re-evaluation counseling, or RC, and were often pushed to talk about painful and emotional experiences though they feared deeply personal thoughts they shared in those sessions would not be kept confidential.
Sazama did not respond to requests for comment Sunday evening.
We respect the former BSAC members choice to resign. Us members who are choosing to stay should be respected and our voices should be valued as well.— Boston Student Advisory Council (@BSACbuzz) March 7, 2021
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