State May Halt Federal Funds To Boston Schools Over Committee Resignations

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts Education Commissioner may freeze a huge chunk of federal funds to Boston Public Schools because of several tumultuous resignations from the system's School Committee.

Commissioner Jeffery Riley said the money, from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), was a "once in a life-time opportunity for children."

Boston's school system is set to receive more than $430 million from the fund over the course of three rounds of grants.

Riley said a string of resignations from the Boston School Committee had affected the committee's "stability."

Chair Alexandra Oliver-Davila and Member Lorna Rivera resigned after the Boston Globe obtained and published a text exchange between them during a contentious Committee meeting on October 22, 2020. The two disparaged white families in Boston during the exchange.

Former Chair Michael Leconto resigned in October, after seeming to mock the names of Asian participants during the same meeting. Student Representative Kymani James resigned in March.

"I am extremely concerned about what's transpired on that school committee...I think it's fair to question how such a diminished board could make such a substantial decision," Riley said. The funding will be a one-time grant from the federal government.

Commissioner Riley said he wouldn't want to withhold the first wave of funding, ESSER I, which would give Boston around $32 million to work with.

Boston Public Schools responded to Riley's comments, saying that it had immediately selected a new chair when Oliver-Davila resigned, and that the mayor has a plan to fill the vacancies permanently in the next few weeks.

The district also pointed to a commission it started with the sole purpose of determining how to spend the funds, and its collection of parent and community feedback. It said it will submit a plan for the funds to the state by July 30.

WBZ's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports:

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Written by Chaiel Schaffel

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