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Boston avoids state takeover of public school system

June 28, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Boston leaders and state education officials have reached a last-minute agreement to stave off an “underperforming” designation and a state takeover of the city’s troubled public school system.

The agreement announced Monday night by Mayor Michelle Wu and Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley includes pledges by the city to implement immediate improvement efforts in several key areas, including services for English learners and special education students, safety, and transportation.

“This agreement documents specific steps, timeframes, and clear scope for a partnership with the state that sets our district up for success, and I’m glad that our discussions ultimately reinforced that Boston’s local communities know best how to deliver for our schools,” Wu said in a statement.

The school system, currently in the process of searching for a new superintendent, said in a statement that the agreement includes “commitments to eliminate systemic barriers to educational opportunity, build the operational capacity to implement systemic change, and support Boston’s students in achieving their full potential.”

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The Boston Teachers Union said a state takeover would have been a disaster.

“Educators, parents, families and students have been advocating for the solutions we know our school communities have needed for years, and it is time now to redirect our energy, time and resources from fending off ill-conceived power plays into making those local democratic solutions a reality,” union President Jessica Tang said in a statement.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in a report released in May found “significant, persistent challenges” in the city’s schools.

As part of the agreement, the education department pledged to hire an independent auditor to ensure the integrity of data collected by the city, and provide $10 million in financial support and technical assistance.

The state’s largest school system has about 46,000 students in 113 schools, according to state data.