K2 families: Sign up for Family Updates and we will reach out to you once your account is available.
Rising 1st grade families: Log into the Savings Center to see the money in your child’s account and start earning even more.
For specific questions about the Boston Saves program, you can reach me at BostonSaves@boston.gov
Horace Mann and Jackson/Mann moves postponed; Horace Mann learns Charlestown has dibs on their first choice for swing space
BPS July meeting notes say not to tell anyone: “Reiterate the confidentiality of this meeting — team will not share …, in particular to the JM community”
By Alain Jehlen
Horace Mann School community members reacted angrily Monday when they found out the Edwards Middle School building in Charlestown, which they thought had been offered as swing space when their own building is rebuilt, will probably be used for elementary or preschool students, mostly from Charlestown, instead.
Meanwhile, the Jackson/Mann School community, which shares the building in Allston with the Horace Mann, has had no official word. Staff have been asked to invite parents to a community meeting Thursday night but were not told what the meeting is about. They only learned what’s happening recently because someone from the Horace Mann told them.
(More on that below.)
A commitment to Charlestown parents
”At the Horace Mann community meeting Monday, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius did not completely close the door to using the Edwards as swing space, but she said that would delay for years her plan to use it for early education and break a commitment she made to Charlestown parents.
Her explanation did not go down well with parents and staff on the call.
“Charlestown community has received $30 million+ for new schools at Eliot. Now you have committed additional $millions for another school? Are you committing to privileged communities only?” wrote Charlie Kim, a parent who chairs the Horace Mann Site Council, in the webinar meeting Q&A. (Kim said he was not criticizing the Eliot, which he said is an excellent school. One of his children goes there.)
Cassellius responded that Charlestown has “a very large population of economically disadvantaged students within the community as well.”
School officials also told the Horace Mann community that they won’t be moving out of their current building in Allston next fall as planned because of delays forced by the pandemic. The soonest the move can now happen is the following fall, 2022, said Nate Kuder, BPS Chief Financial Officer, at the meeting.
BPS officials announced in April, 2019, that the building, which houses the roughly 80 students of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and the 520 students of the Jackson/Mann Elementary School, must be torn down and rebuilt because of problems with the roof, ventilation, and other aspects of the building. They said the building would be closed in the fall of 2021 and swing space would be found for both schools while a new building goes up.
Finding that space has been tough.
A team with representatives of the school community and the BPS central office has been looking for swing space and examined three possibilities: the Edwards, the former Endicott School building, and the Cleveland Middle School building, which now houses two high schools, Boston Arts Academy and the Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH).
When 3 = 1
The understanding on the part of the Horace Mann team members was that they could choose.
On September 22, the school representatives told the central office they had chosen the Edwards. The Endicott was too small and the Cleveland had other drawbacks.
But at a joint team meeting two days later, the school representatives were told that the decision wasn’t up to them. Last Monday Cassellius gave a clear signal that she wouldn’t support them using the Edwards.
Principal Maritza Ciliberto minced no words in expressing her disappointment at the Zoom meeting, attended by about 100 Horace Mann community members Monday evening.
“We were presented with those three choices, and the more we have engaged in this conversation, the more clear it is to me that there was only one viable, or at least the district already had some idea as to which of the three offerings were really going to be a possibility. And it’s really disheartening,” Ciliberto said. “I don’t have to tell you that our school community is one of the neediest in terms of special needs and also demographics.”
Two-thirds of the Horace Mann students are English learners, four-fifths are low-income, and all are special needs.
An important coffee
Cassellius said her commitment to Charlestown parents goes back to right after she was chosen as superintendent, when Mayor Marty Walsh had a coffee for her with Charlestown parents.
“The parents there were talking to me about this need for early childhood space and … elementary-age children,” she told the Horace Mann community Monday. “I’ve met with them multiple times …I had pretty much committed that that was going to be a space for a school for that community in that area. … I don’t want to go back on my commitment to the Charlestown community.”
“Nate and I kind of crossed”
“I don’t know where Nate [Kuder]and I kind of crossed on that in terms of you guys going and touring. I think it just landed on a list as a school that was open, and so I apologize to the community for that misunderstanding.”
The joint central office–Horace Mann team has been meeting every two weeks over the summer. According to meeting notes, the school representatives were told on July 30 that the move had to be put off for a year.
Don’t tell JM
The notes show that the group was very concerned about what would happen if word got out. The notes include:
“Reiterate the confidentiality of this meeting — team will not share more broadly beyond this meeting, in particular to the JM [presumably Jackson/Mann] community.
“Not sure what the narrative that will come out is going to be… There’s a lot of historical presentations and commitments that have been made…
“Will aim to be more transparent about timelines and milestones as we move toward fall 2022 date… we have work to do before we’re ready to share anything with the Horace Mann community.”
The meeting notes are posted here.
Apparently the plan to keep the news from the Jackson-Mann staff and families was successful.
Some people at the Horace Mann and many at the Jackson/Mann believe the central office plans to close both schools permanently, although officials have denied that. (The BPS press office did not respond today to a question about closing the Jackson/Mann.)
Members of both school communities say the central office is steering students away from their school. Enrollment at the Horace Mann has been shrinking gradually, from about 140 ten years ago to just below 80 last year.
At the Jackson/Mann, enrollment has fallen more steeply, from about 770 in 2016–2017 to about 520 last year.
Last year, parents reported that the administration would not let them enroll their children at the Jackson/Mann, presumably in order to shrink its enrollment. The West End House Boys and Girls Club, which provides after-school programs for many Jackson/Mann students, told parents in an email last winter, “we are strongly encouraging families to choose a NEW SCHOOL FOR THE 2020–2021 SCHOOL YEAR” because the building was closing and it was unclear what would happen afterwards.
According to a teacher, the staff and parents have heard nothing, although the flyer teachers were given for parents says it’s a “BuildBPS Community Meeting.”
Rally at 12:30 on Wednesday, October 28th, at City Hall, to advocate to get the High Priority Students back in the classroom.
A group is being formed to represent families in the City of Boston who have been affected by the closing of in-person school for the past two school years. Our mission is to create a diverse, broad, and collaborative group that helps Boston Public Schools develop creative solutions for providing in-school opportunities for students. When schools were closed in March of 2020, we, like many of you, assumed that our children would be back in school in September. The reality is that the pandemic never left, and is likely to be around for the foreseeable future, including this entire school year and the next. Therefore, we are calling for stakeholders in our school system to address this reality and develop adaptable plans that focus on bringing back in-school learning for this year and next. We want to represent the voices of Boston’s children, parents and guardians from all across this city, and the wonderful teachers who miss their students as much as the students miss them.
So, what do we want?
1) The Boston Public School System, the mayor, and city leaders to commit to providing children with the ability to return to school for 2020-2021 school year and the 2021-2022 school year, starting with our priority students
2) The City and Boston Teacher’s Union to create amendments and addendums to the existing MOU that will guarantee priority students the ability to attend school for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school year
3) Clear communication from Boston Public Schools that is proactive, not week-by-week, and will allow families time to adapt to the changing realities of helping to educate our students during a public health crisis”
Date: October 8, 2020
Contact: Edith Bazile, 781-510-3015, email@example.com
Roxann Harvey, 617-905-7045, firstname.lastname@example.org
Boston schools began providing some in-person services as of October 1; however, parents and advocates in the Boston Emergency Coordination Group expressed concern over a report that the Boston Public Schools (BPS) face a backlog of thousands of assessments. BPS halted these legally mandated assessments in March when COVID-19 closed schools. The assessments are required for BPS students to access special education services provided by the District. The vast majority of these students awaiting assessment are students of color. Students of color are again being deprived of their education by BPS’ failure to develop a plan to address this backlog.
“These assessments provide a doorway to needed educational services for thousands of students,” insists Edith Bazile, former BPS special educator and administrator. “That door is now closed, and there is a line of thousands of students and their families waiting outside. As COVID-19 case numbers in Boston continue to rise, conducting these assessments as quickly as possible, while in-person learning can still safely happen, is critical. However, I don’t see any sense of urgency at the District about getting these assessments done.”
For Kevin Murray of Massachusetts Advocates for Children, “We are especially worried about children who turned three during the pandemic. They will be in a terrible limbo as of October 15 when they will no longer have access to Early Intervention Services.”
Roxann Harvey is chair of the Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SpEdPAC), an organization of special education parents. “We know that the BPS has a huge amount on their plate, but we need to see a specific plan that shows that these children are a priority for the District,” suggests Ms. Harvey. “Somebody needs to step up and treat this like the emergency that it is. ‘We are working on it’ just isn’t an acceptable response now that school has started. The District has a legal responsibility to get this testing done.”
The Boston Emergency Coordination Group is a network of local parent groups, legal services organizations, and educational advocates convened by Massachusetts Advocates for Children to address the structural inequities with special education in the BPS, during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
The City of Boston and Boston Teachers Union previously stated that if the city reaches 4% positive on Covid testing, all Boston Public Schools would move to 100% remote. Some of our children cannot access remote learning and require their in-person therapies and special education service to prevent regression. I am advocating for all families with students with high needs as defined by DESE and on the BPS reopening site. These families need to continue to have the choice between both options of hybrid and remote. In the past week, 3,400 of our high-needs children have finally been able to access the in-person services that they so desperately needed and we must continue to advocate for their family’s choice to continue to receive in-person services without interruption.
I ask that you come together with other elected officials and BPS to prioritize students with high needs with a plan to keep our kids safe, keep the option for high needs students to receive in person learning, and provide all IEP services, including in-home services. The priority needs to remain on high needs children and family choice for in-person learning services.
“You may choose to add a personal story. You can add details without listing personal information like a student’s name or specific school”
*Please note this is a Saturday meeting*
885 3320 7697
Topic: Boston SpEdPAC | Dyslexia & Reading
Time: Sep 24, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 850 4463 1662
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BPS-Virtual COVID Community Equity Roundtable 15
|Fri Sep 4, 2020 11am – 12:30pm Eastern Time – New York|
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We will be hosting the second of many BPS Virtual COVID Community Equity Roundtables.
Please feel free to add interested parties to this call invitation.
Agenda to follow, but for now please find below the purpose of the meeting:
1. To communicate with stakeholders about how BPS is prioritizing equity with resource distribution
2. To get ideas from stakeholders how we might make improvements
3. To hear from stakeholders how they might be able to support BPS’ COVID relief effort
In solidarity and partnership,
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 941 9503 2715
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+19292056099,,94195032715# US (New York)
Meeting ID: 820 8413 8611
**Please submit questions in advance to email@example.com**
BPS welcomes in-person services in all Welcome Centers August 17 to September 18, 2020. Monday-Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, by appointment only.
Here are a few things you need to know:
- Services are APPOINTMENT ONLY
- Up to 2 adults are able to attend the scheduled appointment
- Everyone, including children over 2-years-old, must wear a mask at ALL times
- To make your registration session run smoothly, click here for a list of all the documents you will need to bring.
On Wednesday, August 12th at 4PM, please join Councilor Essaibi-George and Councilor Arroyo for a Boston City Council Hearing to discuss Boston Public Schools’ preparation and/or planning in the event of extended COVID-19 social distancing measures and related school closures into school year 2020-2021. The hearing will take place virtually and live-streamed on boston.gov/city-council
Members of the public are invited to attend and testify virtually via Zoom Meeting. If you would like to testify, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a link and instructions to do so. Written testimony may be sent via email to email@example.com email (below) and will be made a part of the record and available to all Councilors.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Disability Rights Center – NH and the Institute on Disability at UNH are co-hosting a FREE, public webinar, Disability and the Media, on Wednesday, July 22 from 12-1:30 PM ET. Panelists will discuss disability representation in mainstream and social media, and practical strategies for amplifying the voices of people with disabilities in both traditional and non-traditional media outlets.
Panelists (from left): Andrew Pulrang is a freelance writer on disability, an online activist, and a former Center for Independent Living director. Imani Barbarin is a disability rights and inclusion activist and speaker who uses her voice and social media platforms to create conversations engaging the disability community. Emily Ladau is a disability rights activist, writer, speaker, and communications consultant.
The discussion will be moderated by Dan Habib, documentary filmmaker at the Institute on Disability at UNH, who was a photojournalist for 20 years prior to joining the IOD in 2008. Sponsors also include the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities and the NH Bar Foundation.
The webinar will be live captioned.
July 22, 12-1:30 pm ET: REGISTER NOW