School Committee Chairman resigns after mocking names on ‘hot-mic’

Michael Loconto

Boston School Committee Chairman Michael Loconto resigned today after he mockingly recited the names of people who participated in Wednesday night’s long virtual meeting that ended in a unanimous vote to suspend the BPS placement exam.

Loconto was apparently unaware that his microphone was not muted when he repeated the names in a mocking fashion.
The gaffe happened as public testimony was heard during the six-hour-plus Zoom meeting. After the mishap, Loconto told more than 150 people on the live call that he was talking to somebody off camera about a book that had nothing to do with the meeting. He declined to name the book.

One woman, after giving her public comment, said “Mr. Loconto, I would love to know which book you were quoting.”

The next morning, under mounting pressure, Loconto issued a statement apologizing for his behavior.

“I want to apologize for the comments I made last night. It was not ever my intention to mock anyone. I know that was in my head and in my heart but I make no excuses. I know how my words were heard and how they hurt,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

I have always tried to lead my life, publicly and privately, by treating people with dignity and respect. To those I offended I offer again my sincerest apology and ask for your forgiveness.”

Hours later, amid calls from the public and several city councillors for Loconto to step down, Mayor Martin Walsh confirmed the chairman’s resignation.

Walsh stated: “Chairman Loconto notified me earlier this morning that he is stepping down from the Boston School Committee, and I have accepted his resignation. While he conveyed to me his personal embarrassment and his desire to seek forgiveness, his comments were hurtful and wrong,” Walsh said.

“None of us wishes to be defined by a single moment in our lives and no one knows that better than me. Michael is someone who has done important and difficult work for the people of Boston, and especially our children, but we cannot accept the disparagement of members of our community.”

At-Large City Councillor Annissa-Essaibi George, who quickly pounced on the mishap during the meeting, said Loconto’s comments requires resignation.

“Mr. Loconto's behavior last night was unacceptable,” Essaibi-George said. “I'm deeply appalled, personally offended, by his words. I watched & heard it live. It is unconscionable that he would mock and disparage our families. Our school communities & our City deserve more. It's time for his resignation,” she said in a Tweet.

Councillor Andrea Campbell also called for him to step down.

“Racist comments are never acceptable, most of all by our public servants,” Campbell wrote. “This is not the first time people of color have felt disrespected by Mr. Loconto. I don’t accept this behavior from our School Committee Chair and neither should Mayor Walsh. Loconto should resign.”

At-Large Councillor Michelle Wu, who— like Campbell— is mounting a campaign for Mayor in 2021, said: “As someone who has dealt with comments like this my entire life, this is not only deeply offensive, but blatantly racist & harmful to our efforts to create policy in partnership with community members impacted by these important decisions.

“Last night’s BSC gave me hope because of the inspiring testimony from residents centering justice & equity. Hearing Loconto mock names during that testimony was infuriating,” District 5 Councillor Ricardo Arroyo said in a Tweet.

Names are sacred. They all deserve respect. Boston deserves better, we deserve better. He must resign.”

Loconto was first appointed to the School Committee in 2014 and was elected chairperson in 2018, 2019 and 2020. He is currently practicing attorney and serves as the General Counsel at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts.