The Great Divide is an investigative team that explores educational inequality in Boston and statewide. Sign up to receive our newsletter, and send ideas and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal District Court Judge William Young on Friday said a group of white and Asian parents have raised profound and serious allegations in accusing school officials of wrongfully withholding racially charged text messages from the court record, calling the actions “potentially fraud on the Court.”
The judge’s written comments are far from a formal ruling on the matter, but provide the first glimpse into the judge’s response to a motion the parent group filed last week asking him to reconsider his decision last spring upholding a temporary exam school admission plan.
Young offered up his comments on Friday in a very brief order, denying the school system’s request for more time to prepare for a July 9 hearing on the matter.
“The Plaintiffs’ ... motion raises profound and most serious allegations — potentially fraud on the Court. It must be addressed via a detailed written explanation (preferably accompanied by affidavits) and an oral hearing — and soon,” Young wrote.
The court development came as the Boston School Committee is considering a new proposal to permanently change the admission criteria for Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science. The School Committee has put the proposal, which was just presented on Wednesday, on a fast track for approval, with a vote likely in less than two weeks. Emotions over the proposal are running high across the city.
Boston school officials, in making their request to delay the court case, had wanted to push it off until mid- or late August.
In their motion, school officials indicated that the city’s legal counsel would not have enough time to prepare for the exam school case while also getting ready for a federal court trial later this month over a requirement that police must undergo a psychological evaluation before returning to work after an extended leave.
“Defendants’ undersigned counsel have significant, pressing issues that make compliance with the current opposition and hearing dates unworkable,” according to the school system’s motion filed on Thursday. “Foremost, the undersigned are lead trial counsel in a case in this Court scheduled for a jury trial beginning on July 13, 2021.”
That trial is expected to last two weeks, according to the school system’s motion.
A Boston schools spokesman declined to comment. William Hurd, attorney for the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence Corp., said, “We will reserve comments for the hearing.”
In its motion last week, the parent coalition accused officials of wrongfully withholding text messages that coalition members said proved then-vice chair Alexandra Oliver-Dávila and member Lorna Rivera were biased against white people. The two exchanged disparaging texts about white parents from West Roxbury during a meeting in October when they approved the temporary admission policy for this coming fall’s entering classes.
The temporary policy change suspended the admission test and instead admitted applicants based on grades, and in most cases allocated seats by ZIP codes, which reduced the number of applicants from West Roxbury getting in and the overall number of successful white and Asian applicants.
“The newly disclosed text messages from Oliver-Dávila and Rivera — both leading proponents of the Zip Code Quota Plan — clearly show racial animus, which is presumably why the messages were covered up, and why Oliver-Dávila and Rivera both resigned when those messages came to light,” according to court documents the parent coalition submitted for the motion.
Both Oliver-Dávila and Rivera apologized for their text messages, and explained they had received many letters filled with racialized discourse opposing exam-school admission changes in the days leading up to the vote. Rivera also said she believes the text messages were leaked in late May in an attempt to derail the process to permanently change the exam school admission requirements.
The leaked text messages re-ignited the controversy stemming from that School Committee meeting last October, during which then-chair Michael Loconto was caught on a hot mic mocking the names of speakers with Asian sounding names, prompting him to resign and apologize repeatedly.
The parent coalition contends that the incident and the leaked text messages now show that three out of seven members of the School Committee who voted that night harbored racial animus toward the two demographic groups who would be negatively affected by the changes.
James Vaznis can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.