Boston Latin School ‘unfairly judged,’ outgoing headmaster says
The outgoing headmaster of Boston Latin School, in her formal letter of resignation, criticized outside influences that buffeted the school this year as it sought to combat racism, saying its efforts “have been unfairly judged.”
“It is my belief that our school and our efforts here have been unfairly judged, for reasons that go well beyond the walls of BLS,” Lynne Mooney Teta wrote in the letter to Superintendent Tommy Chang, dated June 21 and obtained by the Globe Wednesday.
“It is unfortunate that at a time when Boston Latin School has made tangible progress to combat racism in our community through constructive dialogue fostered by the student body, others outside the school continue to condemn us, denounce us and hold us responsible for district policies and practices over which the school has no control,” she said.
She added, “This environment has inhibited faculty and students from sharing perspectives and asking questions, all of which are critical to a healthy school climate.”
Teta could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The letter offers fresh insight into Teta’s surprise announcement Tuesday that she would step down after nine years as headmaster of the city’s top exam school, and also provided a specific date for her departure, July 15. Teta had been facing calls for her ouster for the past few months from several civil rights organizations, which expressed dissatisfaction with the way she was addressing racial complaints at the school.
The letter was written in much sharper language than another missive she wrote to the Latin School community Tuesday informing them of her resignation. That missive vaguely referenced the racial incidents that rocked Boston’s top exam school earlier this year saying “we have faced some challenges this year.”
Teta, who graduated from BLS in 1986, said in her actual resignation letter to Chang that it was with a “heavy heart” that she was giving up the job, but added, “My resignation is predicated on the hope that by removing myself, the climate of tension that has permeated the school will dissipate and the focus of BLS will return to the incredibly demanding work at hand.”
Teta also said that students, faculty, parents, and alumni have been working collaboratively to implement initiatives to strengthen the school.
“We have redoubled our commitment to address issues of interpersonal, institutional and systemic racism,” she wrote. “I remain proud of that record and work.”
The headmaster ended the letter talking about her pride in the accomplishments of this year’s graduating class, who are “heading to the most selective colleges and military academies, including 26 students to Harvard.”
“Indeed, I am proud to say that during my tenure, Boston Latin School has done as well as any school in the nation to support students from all walks of life meet their potential as students, artists, athletes and leaders,” she wrote.
The school department, in a statement, confirmed that Chang received Teta’s resignation letter Tuesday.
“Neither Superintendent Chang nor BPS can comment on the contents of the letter, which pertains to personnel matters,” the statement said. “Dr. Chang has publicly thanked Dr. Mooney Teta for her nine years of dedicated service as headmaster of Boston Latin, which has experienced numerous academic gains and student success stories under her leadership.’’