Boston schools working to comply with federal probe

Bridgit Brown | 11/1/2011, 8:02 p.m.

“We are not suggesting that the District continue to blindly pour money into schools that have been identified as failing,” said LCCR’s staff attorney Rahsaan D. Hall. “However, we are concerned that the burden of making these improvements overwhelmingly falls on the backs of black and brown children in the city.”

Nora Toney, president of BEAM also said that disproportionate numbers of school closings have historically occurred in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Boston. “The school closings have had a profound impact on our students, families and community; creating constant disruption, instability and uncertainty while failing to provide the quality schools promised by the district.”

The OCR accepted the complaint, stating that the 13 allegations made by LCCR and BEAM fall under the jurisdiction of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VI, which prohibits institutions that receive federal assistance from discriminating against students and their parents on the basis of race, color or national origin.

OCR is currently investigating whether or not the Boston Public School Committee discriminated against black and Latino students in the development, approval, and implementation of the Reinvest and Redesign Plan.

Johnson said that the OCR investigation of ELL student services shed light on other issues amongst the BPS population.

“Whenever you begin to look at achievement gaps for any group, it identifies other inequities in the system that must be addressed,” Johnson said. “We also need to look at the needs of African American children who are English speaking, but who still have significant academic challenges. At the end of the day this is about giving kids the opportunity to learn, whether they are black, Latino, White, Asian.”