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West Roxbury elected officials call for resignation of School Committee chairwoman

Updated with O'Malley comments.

After reading what Alexandra Oliver-Dávila had to say about their constituents, state Rep. Ed Coppinger (D-West Roxbury) and City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) are calling for her to resign.

At issue are text messages Oliver-Dávila and committee member Lorna Rivera exchanged during a nine-hour School Committee meeting on exam schools in which both expressed their hate for white parents in West Roxbury over the issue. Rivera resigned today. Oliver-Dávila, who took over as chair after Michael Loconto resigned, did not.

In a Facebook post tonight, Coppinger writes:

No parent in Boston should need to explain to their kids why yet another member of the School Committee - public officials who should be held to the highest standard - is resigning after making offensive and divisive remarks.

I was the first elected official to call for the past Chair’s resignation after his offensive, racist comments at a School Committee meeting. I continue to believe that our school department should not be led by individuals who denigrate any part of the rich diversity in our city and our neighborhoods.
It has become abundantly clear that this current School Committee did not receive proper vetting from the Administration, so I hope the next elected Mayor will lead an open process that prioritizes members who understand BPS and move our schools forward.

In a separate Facebook post, O'Malley a href="https://www.facebook.com/heymattomalley/posts/10158112962057212">wrote:

Insulting an entire community breaks trust & hampers the board’s ability to improve Boston’s public education.

He added that Oliver-Dávila called him to apologize:

It took guts, and I truly appreciate her reaching out. None of us should be judged by a singular bad moment, and Alex is a good person. I accepted her apology.

Unfortunately, the trust has been broken irrevocably between many BPS families & members of the policy setting body. With the enormous challenges ahead of us as a district, we can’t afford further divisions.

Neighborhoods: 

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Comments

Coppinger is really good at playing to his townie base in Westie at any given opportunity while doing nothing substantive in the decade he’s been in office.

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You mean his constituents?
I think this is a pretty important issue for them, so yeah, he should address it. And changing a competitive selection process to deliberately not select the top performers is a big deal for all interested in BPS.

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So you're okay with Oliver-Davila's comments?

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Just refer to them as "Westie Whites" going forward.

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These were private not racist text messages, that should’ve never been made public.

And the same people who didn’t want black kids going to charter school in their neighborhood, are calling for their resignation?

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Adam, can you speak for your racist neighbors?

But agreed about the "private" texts. How in the hell did these get out? I get now why Tom Brady didn't want to pass over his phone when the NFL promised him they would only release information relevant to the NFL investigation.

There were anti-charter school signs both in Roslindale AND West Roxbury.

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Is any communication between two public officials attending an open public meeting, particularly related to the matters being handled at said meeting, considered to be private?

But should be impossible to find out about. Open Meeting law 101.

An earlier Globe story on this indicated that it was not the first time members of the School Committee were known to be typing away on their phones during these meetings. So you just have to know how to pull that thread the right way with an FOIA request to find out if A.) such texts between members from during the meeting exist, and B.) obtain those texts as public record.

Committee members' use of their cellphones for texting and other digital communications during their meetings has long raised eyebrows among many parents, educators, and activists, who have questioned whether members are distracted by personal matters or conversing with one another.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/11/17/metro/text-messages-fly-boston-sc...

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City attorneys determined (for better or worse) that the specific exchange was private under the Open Meeting / Public Records laws.

It is curious how/why the message was leaked from the Law Department to the press. You can imagine political reasons for that happening. Walsh appointed those school committee members. Janey will assign temporary replacements.

Why? Well, you see, the accusation now is that the city has broken the law by redacting/withholding these specific texts AND not reporting that such had been done. So the better question is why did the city break the law? I am thankful for whoever leaked the information that a public municipal government has failed to comply with the law.

Where are you getting the information on the determination by the legal department? As of the publication of this Globe article, the legal department had not answered the Globe as to why these specific texts were secretly withheld from them. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/06/07/metro/boston-appears-have-illegal...

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Based on my lay knowledge of the open meeting law, a city attorney could have decided that the texts either did not fall under 'deliberation of a topic under discussion' or were considered personal communication, since the texts referred to the reputation of people commenting on the topic, not on the topic itself. I am aware that's a stretch, but I can picture it happening. City attorneys are empowered by the law to make those type of judgement calls.

Either way, it's unusual that the information was leaked from the Law Department, because an attorney has a strong professional obligation to maintain confidentially compared to say, say, a public works employee.

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And the reason she shouldn't be treated like the person she replaced?

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I don't live in WR but for a SC member to make these remarks about any neighborhood in the city is outrageous. She needs to resign immediately.

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Nice to see O'Malley once again check which way the wind blows before having an opinion. Not going miss him.

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So you would prefer that he make snap decisions, based on only his gut, rather than talk to people and then come to a conclusion?

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that he actually was out front on something aside from sun screen or water bubbler's.
That and the fact whenever I have contacted his office i get only a weak response that takes days.
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And none of the mayoral candidates have commented on a school committee member resigning and its chairman trying to hang on. From what I've seen online the only people commenting are Rep Coppinger, Councillor O'Malley and CC at-large candidate Spillane.

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Saying I disagree with the West Roxbury parents is one thing, what she said is another.
What people say in private is a good sign of their true feelings.

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