Boston School Committee Chairwoman Resigns After Disparaging Texts Surface

Another school committee member resigned last week -- texts they sent each other during a school board meeting were "unfortunate and unfairly disparaged members of the Boston Public Schools community," Mayor Janey wrote

Alexandra Oliver-Dávila
Boston Public Schools

Two members of the Boston School Committee, including the chairwoman, have resigned after private text messages they sent each other during a school board meeting in October surfaced.

The chairwoman, Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, apologized for the text messages, obtained by The Boston Globe, that criticized white parents in the school district in a letter announcing her resignation Tuesday. The other committee member, UMass Boston professor Lorna Rivera, sent her resignation letter on Thursday.

"Their private remarks, which were recently made public, were unfortunate and unfairly disparaged members of the Boston Public Schools community," Mayor Kim Janey wrote in a statement announcing her support for their resignations.

Both the committee members spoke in their letters about being the target of racism for their work on the school committee, leading to stress and pain, something Janey acknowledged in her letter.

In the texts, Rivera wrote to Oliver-Dávila, referring to families from West Roxbury, that she was "Sick of Westie whites" and predicted that "white racists" would yell at the board, according to the Globe. Oliver-Dávila wrote back to the second remark, "Whatever. They're delusional."

A federal judge has just ruled in favor of the Boston School Committee's plan governing admission to the city's three exam schools.

The texts were sent during a virtual school board hearing in October where the standardized test for Boston exam schools was temporarily eliminated, the Globe reported. They were obtained through a public records request.

The hourslong hearing had already resulted in the committee's then-chairman, Michael Loconto, resigning after he was heard on a hot mic mocking people's names.

In a statement shared by Janey's office, Alexandra Oliver-Dávila apologized for causing people pain and said she didn't want the texts she sent that night to distract from the board's work.

"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 in this private exchange," she said.

Rivera, whom the Globe reported resigned after the texts came to light, wrote that working on the committee took a toll on her personally: "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."

The school committee has long dealt with racism, including through the busing crisis in the mid-1970s that Janey lived through. Earlier this year, a parent group challenged the new exam school admission criteria, which is based on zip codes, by saying it was aimed at decreasing hte number of students "from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds from gaining admission."

Janey said the departure of Oliver-Dávila and Rivera "leaves a void in Latina leadership on our school committee that I am determined to address."

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