Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said Tuesday he is “extremely concerned” about the recent resignations on the Boston School Committee and is considering “temporarily freezing” some federal funding the district is slated to receive.
Boston’s School Committee currently has two empty seats after former chair Alexandra Oliver-Dávila and member Lorna Rivera abruptly resigned because racially-charged text messages they sent one another about West Roxbury families during an October public meeting were made public. The women had been listening to public testimony on proposed changes to the city’s exam school admissions process.
Paymon Rouhanifard, a member of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, asked Riley during a board meeting Tuesday how his team feels about the recent events in the state’s largest school district.
“I am extremely concerned about what’s transpired on that school committee,” Riley said.
“As a state, we have a responsibility to kind of oversee what’s happening there,” he continued. “And the fact that there’s nearly a half a billion dollars, I think it’s $430 million, that are coming in ESSER funding [Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund] makes me nervous about what’s happening in Boston.”
Riley said his team will be “exploring the possibility of maybe temporarily freezing” the second and third rounds of emergency relief funding for Boston. He would like to see the board “stabilized,” he said, but noted that its instability is not a reflection on Acting Mayor Kim Janey.
“I think it’s fair to question how such a diminished board could make such a substantial decision [for] this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children,” he said.