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BPS brings back Ernst & Young for exam school admissions after GPA error

Boston Public Schools has brought back Ernst & Young to validate the complex admission process for the exam schools, Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science.John Tlumacki

Boston Public Schools has rehired Ernst & Young to audit its exam school admissions decisions after the district wrongly told dozens of students that they were or were not eligible for the three prestigious high schools, Superintendent Mary Skipper said Wednesday night at a School Committee meeting.

The district employed Ernst & Young last year for the first year of a complex new admission process for the schools, Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science. No known errors came to light under the global accounting firm’s watch.

But the district moved on to local consultant firm Borderland Partners this year, and parents caught multiple errors, including the recent error in calculating GPAs that affected eligibility for dozens of students and would have affected the composite scores that determine admissions for many more.

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The district has now sent corrected eligibility notices and intends to send invitations out “in early May as scheduled and without any further delay,” the superintendent said.

“We’ve also worked, which I’m very excited about, to bring back Ernst & Young, which we refer to as EY, for our external validation for the invitation data,” Skipper said. “We have great confidence in EY, given our past experience and working relationship with them, and we look forward to working with them again on something that’s so important.”

BPS has declined to answer repeated questions from the Globe about Borderland’s contract and why Ernst & Young was replaced. The district has yet to respond to public records requests from the Globe for bidding information, contracts between the district and the small Sharon-based company, and communications between district officials about the position.

After the district discovered the error and confirmed that Borderland Partners had failed to catch it, the district initially brought in the city’s auditing department to verify the new calculations.

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While the mistakes are not expected to affect the admissions timeline for the three schools, the misfires have added another layer of stress to families already struggling to navigate a complicated process. One set of students, buoyed by the news that they could apply, have seen their hopes dashed, while others — told they were not eligible — may have already decided on backup options, such as private schools.

“I want to thank our families for their patience as we finalize the process for this year and to share that we’ve already begun to work on the plan for next year,” Skipper said. “We realize how high stakes this is and we want to make sure that we get everything right and timely.”

The was the first full year of the district’s complicated new exam school admissions policy, which was put in place in July 2021. Eligible students receive a composite score, with 70 percent based on their GPA and 30 percent based on a test, the MAP Growth assessment, with potential bonus points based on their schools and living situations. Last year, there was no test component. Students are admitted according to their composite score ranks within geographic tiers, which are grouped areas of the city by socioeconomic factors like poverty and educational attainment.


Christopher Huffaker can be reached at christopher.huffaker@globe.com. Follow him @huffakingit.