3 Boston Latin Academy Administrators Put on Leave Amid Harassment Allegations

Dorchester, MA - 06/18/14 - Boston Latin Academy at let-out time for a story about complaints from teachers and staff about the way the headmaster and other administrators are running the school. - (Barry Chin/Globe Staff), Section: Metro, Reporter: James Vaznis, Topic: 20Latinacademy, LOID: 7.3.3849794397.
Boston Latin Academy at let-out time.
BARRY CHIN/GLOBE

Three Boston Latin Academy administrators have been placed on paid administrative leave two weeks before the school year begins, amid allegations of harassment, discrimination, and intimidation.

School officials would not identify the individuals. A letter from Interim Boston Schools Superintendent John McDonough that was e-mailed to school staff and parents on Wednesday described the three as program directors who oversee academic departments and evaluate teachers. According to The Boston Globe, program directors “typically oversee academic departments and evaluate teachers.”

The letter states that concerns were raised by a number of BLA faculty members who were worried about the “academic and professional standards at the school.”

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McDonough also wrote that a leadership coach will work with BLA Headmaster Emilia Pastor and the school team this fall to “work directly with staff to put professional development in place at all levels to help resolve the underlying issues.”

I view these efforts as collaborative and productive– not administrative or prescriptive. We share the same goal of ensuring that Boston Latin Academy continues to be a school that reflects BPS at our very best. We share your sense of urgency that requires us to make changes to position all students for success in a wide range of higher education opportunities.

Chief Communications Officer for BPS Lee McGuire told Boston.com they hope to have replacements for the program directors by the time school starts in about two weeks. He said he could not comment on any other specific action steps regarding the three individuals.

McGuire said the complaints from faculty surfaced this spring. The Boston Globe reports that after the school system changed the teaching evaluation system over the course of the last two years, some teachers felt targeted for removal, especially older teachers and black teachers. Some faculty reportedly said the school’s administration was creating “a hostile work environment and was forcing teachers to lower academic standards, through tactics such as mandating they award more As and Bs to students.”

The only unsatisfactory rating during the last school year at BLA was given to a black teacher, while another black teacher received a “needs improvement,” which is the next step up, according to The Globe.

State data shows that of the school’s 93 teachers during the 2012-13 school year, 15 percent were black, while 68.3 percent were white. Five years ago, about 18 percent of teachers were black.

“Additional changes remain a possibility,” McDonough wrote. “We will monitor the situation closely in the months ahead.”

BLA Headmaster Emilia Pastor could not immediately be reached for contact, but when reached by phone, Assistant Headmaster Richard Sullivan declined to comment.

Boston Latin Academy, located on Townsend Street, is a public exam school that was founded in 1878 as Girls’ Latin School, the very first college preparatory high school for girls established in the United States. It became co-ed shortly after the School Committee recognized a new state law regarding sex discrimination in 1971. Students at BLA are admitted based on results of an entrance test.