Boston Latin probe finds Civil Rights Act violation

The Boston Public Schools will adopt a comprehensive strategy to address and prevent racial harassment of its students that will include annual trainings, an annual school-wide survey of the racial climate, and the establishment of a diversity/non-discrimination officer, federal authorities announced on Monday, citing the conclusion of a months-long independent investigation of alleged civil rights violations at Boston Latin School.

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According to the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the investigation involved interviews with more than 200 people — Boston Latin administrators, faculty, parents, students and alumni — and the review of thousands of pages of documents. Authorities concluded there was one Civil Rights Act violation involving Boston Latin's "mishandling of its review of allegations that a male student addressed a female black student during class using profanity and a racial slur and threatened to lynch her with an electrical cord," according to Ortiz' office.

The investigation also "raised concerns" about Boston Latin's "response to two other racially-charged incidents and the overall effectiveness of its efforts to create an inclusive school climate for all of its students."

Boston Latin also "did not consistently apply policies and procedures relating to student discipline," according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

"Boston Latin School is one of the most prestigious public high schools in the nation. Its rich history and well-deserved reputation for academic excellence make it vital that the school provide a supportive learning environment where students of all races can learn without fear of harassment or discrimination," Ortiz said in a statement.

"All students should feel welcome and safe at BLS regardless of their racial background. Today's resolution will help ensure that Boston Latin responds thoroughly and appropriately to complaints of race-based discrimination and provides a dynamic and racially and ethnically sensitive learning space for the extraordinary students who pass through its doors. We commend Boston Public Schools for its cooperation and we are confident that the District will continue its work to foster an inclusive climate for all students."

In a Feb. 26 letter to the U.S. attorney, several civil rights advocacy groups alleged a racially hostile learning environment at the Boston Latin School.


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