A federal judge has refused for the second time to rule against the new policy adopted by the Boston School Committee to increase diversity in the district’s elite exam schools.
“[T]he Supreme Court explained that the motive for increasing minority participation and access is… not suspect, ”District Judge William Young wrote.
In his 55-page decision, Young noted that Boston, home to the oldest and most prestigious schools in the country, is also home to 34 of the state’s lowest performing 10% schools.
But Young’s decision also comes two months after the judge, in a move unprecedented for him, withdrew his original opinion, which had ruled in favor of a postcode-based temporary exam admissions policy, saying that the district had “misled” him by leaving him. text message recordings containing racist messages.
“I have been misled and I don’t see how public opinion can hold up,” Young said in a virtual hearing in July.
Kay Hodge, an attorney representing Boston Public Schools, said at the time that city attorneys made the decision to leave out certain text messages among school committee members in response to a request for public documents from the reason that they were of a personal nature and not related to Official Affairs.
These messages turned out to be an exchange between then-member Alexandra Oliver-Davila who texted then-member Lorna Rivera saying “I hate WR” (West Roxbury), to which Rivera replied. “fed up with white westie”. Oliver-Davila said: “Me too, I really want to say that !!!!”
Hodge claimed that neither she nor the other members of the district legal team knew the texts had been redacted until the parents’ coalition brought it up in court.
“Didn’t it occur to you to bring this to the attention of the court?” Young asked Hodge, to whom she said no.
William Hurd, an attorney representing the coalition, said he was seeking other relief, such as banning BPS from again using a postcode quota for admissions.
Hurd argued that the temporary admission policy was racist, which was further demonstrated by text messages between Oliver-Davila and Rivera, who resigned after the messages were posted.
Parent Coalition member Darragh Murphy declined to comment on Saturday as the case is now before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Spokesmen and a school district lawyer did not respond to calls or emails.
The issue of exam schools came to a head in July, when the school committee approved a new permanent admissions policy using an indicator of poverty and socioeconomic levels.
The last time the school committee voted on such an issue was when the infamous Oliver-Davila-Rivera swap that was revealed occurred and when former president Michael Loconto was surprised in laughing at Asian names on a hot mic and then quit.