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BPS argues judges already knew about two School Committee members' alleged feelings towards some white parents, so those text messages don't really change anything

A School Committee lawyer argued today that leaving out the "Westie whites" exchange from text messages handed over to the Globe and a woman who turned out to be a secret member of the parents group suing over exam-school admissions was an innocent mistake, not part of some nefarious scheme to hide racial hatred by School Committee members.

In a motion asking a federal judge not to re-open the case, the committee's outside lawyer, Kay Hodge added that even if those texts had been included in response to public-records requests, it's hardly proof of racial bias in the way the committee devised a system using both pre-Covid grades and Zip codes to figure out who to offer seats at the three exam schools - because Alexandra Oliver-Dávila and Lorna Rivera's feelings about certain White parents they felt were biased were already evident in the thousands of pages of documents the parents group wanted to submit as part of its case.

Even when coupled with Committee Chairman Michael Loconto's babbling about Chinese names in the middle of the meeting on picking a new selection process for the coming school year, the comments were not enough to make either US District Court Judge William Young or the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit block the new system. Both said the core design of the system was not racially biased. - Boston school officials said they needed a new admissions system, at least for the coming year. because they could not give an exam during the pandemic.

Hodge writes:

[W]hile wholly inappropriate and evincing extremely poor judgment, these messages simply do not show that the Interim Plan was motivated by racial animus. First, Rivera's comment – "Wait til the white racists start yelling [a]t us" – merely expresses her personal belief that white people she considers racist would attempt to confront the Committee and challenge the Interim Plan on racial grounds. Oliver-Dávila's response – "Whatever…they are delusional" – is equally innocuous. To claim that White racists are "delusional" is not a controversial stand with which any right-thinking person would take issue.

While more problematic, Rivera's related comment – that she is "[s]ick of westie whites" – offers more of the same. Rivera's evident frustration with this particular group's insistence that its privileged status be maintained is, if not politically correct, at least explainable. It certainly does not rise to the level of an affirmative showing of some malicious racial animus on the part of Rivera specifically, or the School Committee generally, in implementing the Interim Plan.

After the Globe printed the leaked, missing texts, the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence Corp., made up mostly of White and Asian-American parents, asked Young to re-open the case, if not for the 2021-2022 school year then to hear their case for a permanent injunction against further use of the non-exam admissions system.

Last week, Young denied a request from Hodge for more time to answer the parents' request, saying he needs answer now to "profound and most serious allegations - potentially fraud on the Court."

In her 20-page filing today, Hodge explained how the messages about "Westie whites" were not included in the school department's reply to Globe reporters and a Dorchester resident who had asked for all committee text messages during the nine-hour meeting at which the temporary process was approved:

School Committee member use their own phones, rather than department-issued devices, so BPS asked committee members to provide screen captures of any text exchanges with other members. Three city lawyers - then chief city lawyer Eugene O'Flaherty, assistant corporation counsel Henry Luthin and Shawn Williams, the city's expert on public-records requests - went through all the messages to separate out those that had nothing to do with official business.

For example, messages about "westie whites" and "eating kit kats" were not included because BPS believed those comments were not made in the member’s public capacity.

In its request to reopen the case, the parent group said BPS had deliberately withheld the text messages from it - and thus from the court. But Hodge writes that the group, in fact, never asked for text messages but instead for all sorts of other documents.

In addition to the Globe, a Dorchester resident named Darragh Murphy did ask specifically for text messages from the meeting - once in November and again earlier this year.

Hodge writes that until the group's lawyer e-mailed her on June 16, nobody on the city side knew that Murphy was, in fact, a member of the parent group - she is not named on the group's incorporation papers, filed with the state - and that, in any case, if anybody, including the Globe, had a problem with the text messages they got in response to their requests, they should have filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's office, which they did not.

Hodge does not explain how they could have complained about text messages they did not know existed until somebody leaked them to the Globe, however. But she continues that if we're going to talk about withholding information, she continues, let's talk about Murphy and the parent group:

The Coalition’s Motion [to re-open the case] rests entirely upon the unfounded assumption that BPS must have been aware of the relationship between the Coalition and Murphy and therefore purposefully withheld from the Coalition the text messages at issue in this case. ...

The Coalition’s Motion improperly suggests that it made the public records requests at issue or that BPS had knowledge of Murphy’s involvement with the Coalition. In the Coalition’s Preliminary Statement, it states that the text messages "should [have] been provided to the Boston Parents in response to its public records requests." However, the Coalition itself never made a request for text messages. Information from the Secretary of State’s Office available to BPS at the time of the Coalition’s filing did not list Murphy as a member or officer of the Coalition. Furthermore, Murphy made her requests in her individual capacity with no apparent association to the Coalition. Nevertheless, the Coalition continues to represent throughout its Motion that it was the requestor of text messages.

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Comments

Eating Kit Kats?

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I think we can all agree the white Kit Kats are gross and the proper brown chocolate ones are great, without getting into racial territory though?

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Your failure to mention green tea kitkats makes me doubt your standing, sirrah!

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Then logically you have to accept that those who went into the Capitol on January 6th were just tourists.

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How could you even compare the two?

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That's how.

When I say deflecting, the real word is lying.

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Hodge said her clients were venting about the situation while using unfavorable and not politically correct language (they were). Lawyers of those who stormed the Capitol said their clients either weren’t there (even with video evidence) or some BS claiming they were scared even though they showed up in tactical/militia gear. Why are you fighting so hard for this? Regardless of what was said, they lost the suit on logical, legal grounds for a reason.

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In Venting Veritas.

There was implicit bias by Alexandra Oliver-Dávila who is a foot soldier for the Barr Foundation, an organization who is funded (run really) by charter school supporters.

I see chess, when you see checkers. That is why this suit should be reopened.

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I declined to take the test, but thank you for showing your ass. John sometimes I enjoy your commentary, I really do. But usually you just reek Townie-Turned-Yuppie, since you want to TRY to insult. Your job is literally gentrifying parts of the city and pushing out folks like your hard working dad you love to reference when trying to relate to the average, classic Bostonian. Here you are more focused on a fake perceived bias which is really an experience-based feeling (like it or not) instead of the real, actual bias in the test taking. You are acting exactly like those “Westie Whites” and dragging this as well as deflecting. If you even have kids, do they go to BPS? Or is your Maloney Mula paying for their private education? Checkmate. #ChessClubAlumni

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“These messages can’t be secret, because if they were we wouldn’t be talking about them.”

Good to know that Boston isn’t wasting money on capable lawyers. Same lawyer is on the Dennis White case.

Meanwhile no, defending BPS from parents attempting to protect their privileged status is not on par with attempting to disrupt the peaceful transition of power in the federal government.

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She and her associate withdrew from the White case today. The city's now represented in that case by Nixon Peabody.

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...Then logically you have to accept that those who went into the Capitol on January 6th were just tourists.

but you’re ready for the gold with this leap

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To quote President Biden, "malarkey."

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Again, she wasn't wrong. The Westie Whites get all riled up when they're called racists but don't see their own hypocrisy.

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how often people see comments made decrying "white racists" and are immediately willing to publicly say "how dare you attack me?"

To claim that White racists are "delusional" is not a controversial stand with which any right-thinking person would take issue.

And yet, I expect to see several people taking exception to such in the comments here.

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See a few comments above, haha. Fighting to uphold a system that was proved to be inequitable due to race and class IS racist. But I guess it’s wrong to complain about it

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Read that and was like "oh, have you not seen UHub commenters?"

I'm curious how the white fragility crowd of UHub would react to texts about being fed up with neo-nazis, straight pride parade folks, capitol insurrectionists, etc. If those are uncontroversial statements, why is a statement from a person of color being sick of white nonsense any different? They didn't even say they're sick of all white people! They referred to a specific group of white people who chose to live in a place with the fewest Black people in the area and then made an organized complaint about a policy that would provide more opportunities for people of color. If it walks like a duck...

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Actually WR with the most white people has fallen. That title is held by the Seaport district (as well was the richest).

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Oh I'm aware, but was referring to the starkness of it being considerably whiter than the communities surrounding it that are also fairly comparable in terms of types and prices of homes, nearby amenities, transportation options, etc.

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No school for you!

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.

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Agreed. "Babbling" makes his racism sound innocuous. There's also racism and indifference towards Asian Americans at play here, and an official attempt to reduce Asian American access to the exam schools.

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Important to note that the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence Corp is a subsidiary of Parents Defending Education, funded by the Kochs, the Waltons and Cato institute. There's a bunch of right wing money proping this group up.

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Christine Langhoff, what you wrote is demonstrably and inarguably false in every way. Do you have any evidence or even any reason to make that claim? Or are you just making stuff up?

The Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence is a 100% independent and local group of parents who organized in late 2020. There is no corporate, right-wing or ANY kind of funding or support for BPCAE. Full stop.

Opponents usually characterize BPCAE as a a group of "white parents," when in fact the majority of the Board of BPCAE is Asian American. All of the leadership members are local Boston resident parents of BPS students. There is ZERO outside funding or support.

You should not just make stuff up. It's not a good look.

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Can you provide some evidence that shows a financial tie between the two organizations?

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But she feels better anyway, and feelings are more important to people like her than truth.

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You already know I love to eat cookies. Why should I admit it was me that emptied the cookie jar?

Is that really a legal argument?

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a better analogy would be:

you already knew i love to eat cookies, so finding out that i texted my friend saying as much isn't a good reason for you to reconsider whether or not i emptied the jar.

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I agree with this:

"For example, messages about "westie whites" and "eating kit kats" were not included because BPS believed those comments were not made in the member’s public capacity."

If these two members said this to each other in person privately, it would not be public information. No one would even have a record of them saying it. The fact that they were text messages should not change that. It's not official business. It's just two people venting to each other.

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No, they were having inappropriate conversations on the side during a public meeting. That's not supposed to be happening.

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So if they said it to each other AFTER the public meeting, it would be ok? I'm trying to get to the root of the complaint here...

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The texts were made while the former School Committee members were in the midst of conducting public business. A prudent person would likely consider they have less expectation of privacy while participating in a public meeting -- just as one should expect that anything leaving an electronic record like a text or email has no guarantee of privacy.

Like it or not, these texts at the very least create the impression of bias against whites on the part of the School Committee members in question. The fact that they needed to add the qualifier "white" to "racists" shows a level of bias. A statement like "Wait til the racists start yelling [a]t us" doesn't single out a single race. When you make a comment about "Westie whites" that's just obviously racist on its face. If a similar statement against "Roxbury blacks" would be wrong, then it's also wrong when one says "Westie whites."

While the City's legal department claims the texts were omitted because they were deemed personal in nature, I think it's pretty clear they were redacted because of how they would make the members of the School Committee appear if they were to be publicly aired. And hiding things from the Court is unlikely to make a judge look favorably upon your case.

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When you make a comment about "Westie whites" that's just obviously racist on its face. If a similar statement against "Roxbury blacks" would be wrong, then it's also wrong when one says "Westie whites."

White people are not an oppressed group, but even so, this was referring to a specific group of people, who are in fact white people, who did something shitty and oppressive. It shouldn't be an issue at all that this was said. Public officials should be able to be sick of racist bullshit just like civilian people of color are.

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Claiming to be "oppressed" doesn't give you a Get-out-of-Jail-Free card for your racism. When you call NYC "Hymietown" you're a racist and an anti-Semite to boot. If people from West Roxbury think the government is trying to stack the deck against their kids (which they are), that doesn't make them racist!

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When you call NYC "Hymietown" you're a racist and an anti-Semite to boot.

At what point did eeka, or anyone on the school committee, call New York "Hymietown"?

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Hymietown was a statement made by a major candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1984.

And if you don't like that link, just google the word. It's an interesting story.

(The ignorance is strong here.)

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the question was whether anyone on the school committee or this commentariat used the term "hymietown", was it not? is jesse jackson on the school committee now? is it 1984? like, is your point that people elsewhere in the world and throughout the annals of time have said things you don't like? kudos on remembering some facts, try injecting some context now.

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But I believe the point is that racism doesn’t cease if one who utters racist comments is a member of an oppressed group. And I’ll leave the second part to one’s imagination.

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And I’ll leave the second part to one’s imagination.

You mean the bit about Jesse Jackson being on the school committee?

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I didn't really want to go down the route of whether or not the group Jackson was slandering is an oppressed or privileged group, but since you have gotten your Old Orange Flute stuck somewhere painful after reading my posts, I'm sure you'd love to delve into that in more detail for the rest of us.

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Hymietown was a statement made by a major candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1984.

Yes, young padawan, I know this. In small words: what does it have to do with the matter at hand?

(The ignorance is strong here.)

"Thou hast railed on thyself." - W. Shakespeare

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If people from West Roxbury think the government is trying to stack the deck against their kids (which they are), that doesn't make them racist!

say it with me: racism isn't about intent, racism isn't about intent...

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So when the School Committee's plan reduces the number of Asian American kids offered a spot in one of the exam schools, then it is racism, even if the School Committee did not intend to be racist against Asian Americans, because "racism isn't about intent, racism isn't about intent..."

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there are lots of resources on the internet you can find to help you understand the difference

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(n) prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Prejudice is literally the first word in the definition.

And... the racist women on the School Committee were literally in positions of power, setting policy which would absolutely discriminate against minority children. Just not children in the minority/ies of which they consider themselves to be part.

When the number of Asian American children offered spots in the exam schools drops, that is absolutely racism at work.

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Referring to "Westie Whites" in a text message is clearly on a par with decades of underfunding schools for black and brown children. Glad we got that straight.

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Boston had the 25th-highest expenditures per pupil in the state in 2019. Boston spent more per-student than places like Oak Bluffs, Lincoln-Sudbury, Nantucket, Dover-Sherborn, Concord, Brookline, Wellesley, Newton, Wayland, etc.

BLS, BLA, and the O'Bryant had pretty much the lowest expenditures per student of all the Boston Public Schools. They all came in at about 80% of the district average. So how exactly is Boston "underfunding schools for black and brown children?"

There is basically no accountability for BPS's failure to educate minority children. The response to failure is to just throw more money at the problem. Why succeed when failing means more funding?

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and what of the policies that *already* discriminate against minority children?

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White people are not an oppressed group

The fact that people use this trope to justify racism blows my mind every time I hear it. Racism is racism, no matter what color, race or being it is coming from.

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Racism is racism, no matter what color, race or being it is coming from.

Do you then believe that white people in America are an oppressed group?
Do you believe that racism is merely a matter of calling people names?
Just what do you think racism is?

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The problem with that assumption is that it assumes that original selection process was not biased against certain groups. Change feels like oppression to privileged people. There is no logical scientific reason that exam schools would have a different ethnic make up than the population. The statistics show that that bias exists, and people have been working hard for many years to get some kind of change.

As far as the text messages go, i am still confused about how this is part of the public record. Was this on a taxpayer funded cell phone? Does the law say that public officials have no right to privacy? I do think what she said was wrong and at least can be interpreted as racist. Why were any text messages between members considered public record?

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Except that white population of BLS is just slightly underrepresented compared to the white population of Boston. So what group makes this whole process inequitable?

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is it all about the white population?

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Using this logic, if there had been a public request for a transcript and they left out the fact that someone used the N word, we should be ok with the omission as we should have known that the person saying it was likely to say such things based on their history. We already knew that they were the type of person to say such a thing or text such a thing, so there was no need for anyone to include it. Additionally the fact that they resigned when it came out is in no way indicative of it being considered a big deal that they said it.

Nope, you withheld info. You later admitted it when you wrote:

“BPS attested that only the exhibit was a ‘true and accurate transcription of text messages,’ which it certainly was. BPS did not attest to it being a complete transcript of all the text messages between the two School Committee members in both their personal and public capacities under the Public Record Law,”

We never said we gave you everything you asked for, we just said what we did in fact give you was actually written by these people and not randomly generated by a machine or written by our kids.

Nobody should accept this behavior.

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Why are any text messages part of the record?

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And the texts in question were made during a public hearing. And as they pertain to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the School Committee, one could easily argue they are germane to the members' role on the Committee.

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Why don't I have an expectation of privacy when I text a person during a public meeting?

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Are you an public official, conducting public business, texting another member about the matter being discussed in open session?

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I work for the government and I text my coworkers about events that we are working on. I have a work cell that belongs to the government and I assume that no communication that I make with that phone is private to me. I also have a private cell that I use to communicate with my friends some of which are coworkers. I don't understand how my private direct communication with my coworkers becomes public. These texts were were mean spirted unprofessional jokes about white people. I am not defending what they said but I haven't read any facts that make this public information.

Was it a group text, that one member of the group leaked?

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Participating in an open public meeting, your communication with the other officials present, as well as attendees from the public at large, is literally most of your work product. We have open public meetings, like School Committee meetings, both for responsiveness to constituents and for transparency. Secret communications between officials made while participating in a public meeting are not consistent with the intention of openness.

It's going to be pretty obvious when people at the front of the room are texting during a meeting. It's not a big leap to suspect they might be texting each other.

If I had to venture a guess about the source of the leak, I'd say it's someone who saw the racist messages in question and didn't like the decision made to omit them from the response to the open records request.

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When positive change feels like oppression you may be privileged.

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You prefer more secrecy from our public officials? Would you feel the same if they were texting damn n-word about some of their constituents?

"Positive change" depends on who you are. I don't think Asian American families necessarily think this is positive change, and (in many cases) being a poor immigrant is not exactly "privileged."

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There is no direct line between these 2 people and the system they are using to select students for the exam schools. They lost their positions on the school board for poor judgement, but it doesn't seem to logically create a reason for an injunction preventing PBS from selecting students without an exam.

I don't think the current system is fair if it doesn't reflect the population. Putting up straw asians doesn't change that.

And the idea that I could be sequestered without private communication for 9 hours seems like an unreasonable condition. It is a bizarre manipulation of events to think that anything that came out of this "meeting" from hell shows evidence that exam is legally required. This is a school board meeting not a murder investigation for heaven sake.

I would like to believe that I never write or say things that I would be ashamed of, but this publication of text messages seems very invasive. I get that anything I document could theoretically be publicized, but there is no real connection between this unprofessional behavior under bizarre conditions and the exam.

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Who here doesn't believe that the whole point of the new exam school policy was to increase the numbers of enrollment for black and brown students by decreasing the seats of white and asian students? They didn't event attempt to improve other schools, which was actually their first duty.

One may defend that proposition, but the city and school committee did not do so in court. They said it didn't happen. They lied. Plain and simple.

Now, feel free to defend the policy yourselves in this space. But the city and schools did not in court. They were facetious to the court and the judge is pissed. Rightfully so.

Fine. Defend the policy rather than say it isn't so. Bue we ALL know that was the plan. You can call the plaintiffs racist all you like, but most of the school committee is already demonstrably so.

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