The headmaster of Boston Latin School said Thursday that she will stay on the job and work to improve the racial climate at the prestigious exam school in the wake of a controversy that has prompted calls for her resignation from some leaders in the black community.
In her first interview since acrimony erupted last month over racism allegations at the school, Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta maintained that she will remain in the post she has held since 2007.
“That’s my plan,” Teta said during a 20-minute interview.
She insisted that “no one is more committed than I am to improving the racial climate and culture here at Boston Latin School. ... I also know that we can do better.”
Teta’s comments came two days after she released a letter to the school community apologizing for not responding more swiftly to racial tensions at the school.
The letter followed weeks of public discussion about student claims that racism is common at Boston Latin and after a school department investigation found Teta failed to fully address an incident in which a non-black student threatened a black student and made a lynching reference.
The investigation found that Teta’s staff properly handled six race-based incidents in the past 16 months but mishandled the case that involved the lynching comment.
On Thursday, Teta said that while the administration initially addressed all racial incidents with the individual students who were involved, “we did not enact a school-wide response, and that is the part that I regret. And if I could turn back time, that’s the part that I would do over from the beginning.”
However, she said, the school is taking steps to educate all students and faculty about promoting tolerance and the need to immediately report racial incidents that violate the school’s code of conduct, whether they involve face to face encounters or postings on social media.
“Every faculty member is committed to …. supporting students and reporting these incidents through our disciplinary protocols,” Teta said.
She also praised the student leaders of the advocacy group BLS BLACK — Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge -- who first raised concerns about the racial climate several weeks ago and who met with her on Thursday.
Teta said BLS BLACK members will be spearheading many of the school-wide awareness campaigns going forward.
Kylie Webster-Cazeau, a Boston Latin senior and one of the group leaders, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Despite Teta’s pledge to improve the school climate, some in the black community, including Michael Curry, head of the local NAACP, have called for her to step down.
On Tuesday night, Curry and other advocates agreed at a meeting to ask US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office to conduct a more thorough investigation of the school’s racial climate and the administration’s response to allegations of racism.
Curry declined to comment Thursday on Teta’s remarks, and a spokeswoman for Ortiz could not immediately be reached for comment.
Teta said the school will “cooperate with whatever investigatory agencies are brought to bear.”
She also reflected on the last several weeks of a growing scandal that has rocked the school community.
“It’s been extremely painful to know that our kids have suffered from racism in our hallways,” Teta said. “On the other hand, I would say [I am] encouraged by the commitment” from students faculty, and alumni to “contribute in authentic ways to improve the climate here at BLS.”