Tito Jackson looks for one last Boston council fight, stymied by a rule book

By Globe Staff 

He was looking to go out with a bang, one last fight with Boston public schools administrators on behalf of students and their parents, over recently proposed school start times. But ultimately it will be a matter for another time, another City Council — a skirmish doused by legislative rule books.

Councilor Tito Jackson, who made education the centerpiece of his agenda on the council and in his unsuccessful challenge to Mayor Martin J. Walsh, sought Wednesday for one last resolution that would question a decision by Boston Public Schools to change start times for more than 100 schools.


Wednesday’s meeting was the council’s last of the year — and the final opportunity for the council to address the new start times before new Boston school assignments take effect in early January. It was also Jackson’s last opportunity to address the issue as a councilor, because he did not seek reelection as a result of his challenge to Walsh.

But City Councilor Michael Flaherty cited a council rule that squashed the plan.

Councilor Timothy McCarthy had already introduced an order requesting a hearing on the new start times, to be held later in January. That order had less of a bite than what Jackson had proposed: A resolution demanding that the School Committee hold a new hearing on the new start time plans, before school assignments begin on Jan. 3. The School Committee had already approved the concept of new start times last week, though that decision was made without the details of those new start times. Parents have since lashed out at the new proposal, calling for more debate, after it was disclosed that some elementary schools could start 90 minutes earlier.

Both proposals by McCarthy and Jackson had been submitted past the deadline to be included on the council’s public agenda, and so any action needed the unanimous approval of the council.

McCarthy’s had been submitted first, though. And Flaherty would not give his approval to a vote on Jackson’s resolution, citing a council rule saying that two proposals on the same subject cannot be introduced past the deadline.


“I’m a stickler for rules,” he said later. He told Jackson during his congratulatory send off in his last meeting: “I had to invoke [the rule] on your way out the door. You know I love you, it’s nothing personal.”

Jackson had pleaded for the vote, saying his resolution was different than what McCarthy had proposed, and that it was the council’s last chance to take a stand before school assignments are determined in early January.

It was also his last chance.

“All this was doing was giving this body an opportunity . . . to use our backbone on this and to say, ‘this is too fast, it’s moving in the wrong direction, and affecting too many people all at once,” Jackson said. “This body and members of this body need to take an emphatic stand prior to . . . when this process moves forward.”

The resolution was submitted, but not acted on.

The council does not meet again until Inauguration Day on Jan. 1, without Jackson.

Milton J Valencia can be reached at
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