Boston schools chair resigns over racially charged texts

BOSTON (AP) — The chair of the Boston School Committee resigned Monday amid criticism of racially charged texts she shared with one other member of the committee disparaging households of scholars, metropolis officers introduced Tuesday.

The texts had been despatched throughout a committee assembly final October because the board was contemplating a proposal to briefly drop the doorway check requirement to town’s examination schools.

“Best school committee meeting ever. I’m trying not to cry,” college committee Chair Alexandra Oliver-Davila texted to fellow committee member Lorna Rivera, in accordance with the texts obtained by the Boston Globe.

“Wait until the white racists start yelling at us,” Rivera texted again. “Whatever. They’re delusional,” texted Oliver-Davila. “I hate WR,” she texted Rivera once more, a reference to town’s West Roxbury neighborhood.

“Sick of Westie whites,” Rivera replied. “Me too. I really feel like saying that,” Oliver-Davila texted.

In her resignation letter, Oliver-Davila apologized for the texts and the harm they induced.

“I regret my personal texts, it was inappropriate,” she wrote. “But I am not ashamed of the feelings from history that made me write those words.”

Oliver-Davila cast the comments in the context of her personal history growing up in a city where she said was ostracized and teased, called racial slurs, spat on, and faced physical threats of violence.

During the meeting, Oliver-Davila said she felt transported to her youth as members of the public delivered testimony that she said at times was racist in nature.

“It was painful. And in the heat of the moment it caused me to vent by sending inappropriate personal text messages to one of my colleagues. I regrettably allowed myself to do what others have done to me. I failed my own standards,” she said.

In her resignation letter, Rivera didn’t mention the texts, but wrote about receiving “racist threatening emails and social media personal attacks” from those opposed to changes in admissions policies to the exam high schools.

“I am being targeted as a Latina gender studies professor who teaches about racism, patriarchy, and oppression,” she wrote. “Because of the harassment and overwhelming stress from School Committee-related work, my mental and physical health has deteriorated, so I need to resign and recuperate.”

Acting Mayor Kim Janey mentioned in a written assertion Tuesday that the texts had been “unfortunate and unfairly disparaged members of the Boston Public Schools community.”

But Janey went on to reward Oliver-Davila and Rivera as “dedicated stewards of the committee and passionate advocates for Boston families.”

“As women of color who advocate for racial equity in our schools, I also understand their comments were made in the wake of death threats and unacceptable racist attacks that were frightening, offensive, and painful,” Janey wrote. “Sadly, their departure also leaves a void in Latina leadership on our school committee that I am determined to address.”

Oliver-Davila had confronted mounting strain to step down.

City Councilor Michelle Wu, a candidate for mayor, was amongst these calling for her resignation.

“It’s unacceptable for any of our families or communities in Boston to feel devalued or treated with contempt, and it’s especially damaging for that to come from decision-makers entrusted with setting policies that deeply impact our residents,”

Oliver-Davila is the second college committee chair to resign in lower than a 12 months in Boston.

Last October, former chair Michael Loconto stepped down after showing to mock Asian names throughout a digital assembly.

The assembly was the identical gathering throughout which Oliver-Davila and Rivera exchanged the texts that led to Oliver-Davila’s resignation.

Loconto made the feedback after the names of a number of mother and father who needed to talk had been learn. He apologized through the assembly and later tweeted an apology.

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