Superintendent to name interim Boston Latin headmaster
Superintendent Tommy Chang said Saturday he will name an interim headmaster at Boston Latin School this week and begin working with the school to find a permanent leader.
In a public statement, Chang also addressed the release of information that linked headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta to one of the cases being investigated by the School Department’s Office of Equity.
“Boston Public Schools does not publicly release confidential information pertaining to students or student discipline that would warrant an invasion of privacy,’’ Chang wrote. “I am troubled by any information shared publicly that constitutes a breach of that confidentiality.”
Chang’s statement caps a tumultuous week in which Teta and assistant headmaster Malcolm Flynn submitted their resignations, and parents and teachers demanded that the mayor and superintendent keep them on the job.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh met privately with faculty and staff Thursday morning at the school in an effort to show unity, but afterward some teachers walked away from a press briefing he was holding to stand with Teta and Flynn on the front steps of the school.
Latin School has been under two investigations — by the US Justice Department and the School Department’s Office of Equity — after two students took to YouTube in January to highlight a climate of racial insensitivity at the school. After the video, civil rights advocates demanded that the headmaster step down.
Chang and Mayor Martin J. Walsh had resisted calls for the headmaster to be fired, reiterating their support for Teta. Walsh appeared to be balancing the urgency felt by students to address the issue while also showing support for their esteemed and popular headmaster.
After Teta said she would step down, Walsh told the Globe that neither he nor Chang asked her to resign or put pressure on her.
Still, after submitting his resignation letter, Flynn — a fixture at the school for 52 years — blasted Chang and Walsh for not vigorously defending Latin School against claims that it was a culturally unsafe place.
Flynn said the pair did not back administrators against assertions they did nothing to address students’ complaints. He said the school took disciplinary action when necessary, but argued that some people might not have been satisfied with the measures.
School officials are prohibited from describing specific disciplinary actions because of laws protecting student privacy.
Teachers and parents said Teta, a Harvard-educated alumna, has been a great asset at the school, and was leading efforts to foster dialogue, improve the racial climate, and ease the process for students to report complaints.
On Friday, information was revealed to the Globe that one of the cases being investigated by the Office of Equity involved a student with a personal connection to Teta.
Teta told the Globe in an interview that the incident involved a 13-year-old. It was investigated and resolved, and the student was disciplined, she said.
The headmaster called it “deplorable” and “unconscionable” that anyone would make public an incident involving a minor that was addressed long ago.
The School Department also revealed the findings of the equity investigation at the school. The investigation covered every alleged incident involving racial or ethnic bias reported to Latin School administrators that occurred between November 2014 and January 2016.
The equity office received and investigated 105 reports regarding racial or ethnic bias, including five alleging insufficient action by Latin School’s administrators. One of the cases was concluded in May. The remaining four were concluded June 16. On Tuesday, Teta resigned.
In his public statement, Chang said he sent a letter Friday to the Latin School community, sharing his commitment to the legacy of excellence and student engagement there. He urged the community to continue the important work initiated this year of creating meaningful dialogues around race and culture.
“I ask the Boston Latin School community to come together in respectful and engaged collaboration and dialogue as we begin this important process and continue to provide the best possible education and experiences for our students,” Chang wrote.
In another statement, Walsh pledged to strongly support Latin School’s excellence and rigor, noting his commitment to the students, educators, and alumni community.
“I will never take steps that diminish that level of excellence, or put it at risk,’’ he wrote, adding that he will ensure it is a school “where every student feels safe from discrimination.”