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Horace Mann and Jackson/Mann moves postponed; Horace Mann learns Charlestown has dibs on their first choice for swing space

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

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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

Her explanation did not go down well with parents and staff on the call.

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“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.”

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BPS Chief Financial Officer Nate Kuder and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius at the Monday Horace Mann Zoom meeting

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

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.

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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

“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”

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

“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.

Enrollment shrinking

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.

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Part of the flyer that Jackson/Mann staff have been asked to send parents

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.”


Next Remote School Committee Meeting on November 18th

Next Remote Meeting:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 5 p.m.

In light of the November 3rd national election, which may be a long and emotional day for our nation, the Boston School Committee has made the decision to cancel its meeting scheduled for November 4th. We recognize the significance of the election day and want to ensure our students, families, staff, and community have the opportunity to fully process the day. The Committee will reconvene for its next scheduled meeting on November 18.


Nov. 2nd @ 5:30: Horace Mann School (HMS) Build BPS

Join Meeting Here

BuildBPS Meeting Flyer – Horace Mann (English).pdf


BuildBPS Meeting Flyer – Horace Mann (Spanish).pdf

Haitian Creole

BuildBPS Meeting Flyer – Horace Mann (Haitian Creole).pdf


BuildBPS Meeting Flyer – Horace Mann (Portugese).pdf


BuildBPS Meeting Flyer – Horace Mann (Arabic).pdf


BuildBPS Meeting Flyer – Horace Mann (Somali).pdf








Threshold Program

Threshold continues to serve students in their life-long journey of independence and growth—even during these unprecedented times. We are an incredible community—it is so very special!


Now, more than ever, students with learning differences need Lesley’s support. We are writing to request that you spread the word to your networks about just how impactful the program is. Below you will find information about our live, interactive Virtual Information Session on Monday, November 2, which will include a panel comprised of current Threshold students and staff. It is sure to be engaging and dynamic!


Threshold Program Virtual Information Session
Monday, November 2, 4:00-6:00pm EST



As well, you may also wish to guide anyone interested toward our new webpage, where prospective families can take a virtual tour, read detailed program information and FAQs, and watch videos.


Thank you in advance for any help you can offer in inspiring and sharing with members of your community exactly how rewarding the Threshold program is. We appreciate your time, testimony, and support.


Ernst VanBergeijk
Professor and Director
Threshold Program

Stand Up for BPS Kids

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”

Marcie Carmody


Story Time: “Accessibility Matters” Disabilities Month

Pickney Time Story Time Caribbean Children’s Afterschool Program Program 1 – October 28, 2020

Co-Hosted by Andrew Sharpe & Miranda Alexander Theme: “Accessibility Matters” Disabilities Month | Kweyol Heritage Month | Calypso History Month Disability Featured – Visual or Sensory Impairment – Blindness.

Register Here

Pickney Time | Story Time

Program Themes & Sub-Topics:


Program 1 – October 28 – “Accessibility Matters” – Disabilities Awareness Month – October 2020 Differently-Abled Inclusion – Visual or Sensory Impairment – Blindness Featured Books – Anya goes to Jamaica by Nikko M. Fung Chung | Yes I Can: A Girl and her Wheelchair by Kendra J. Barrett | All Because You Matter by Tami Charles


Program 2 – November 11 – “Growing Stronger” – Indigenous People/Food Security Differently-Abled Inclusion – Auditory Disability – Hearing Impaired Featured Books: The Little Red Hen by Jerry Pickney | Fruits: A Caribbean Counting Poem by Valerie Bloom | A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennet Coverley Found Her Voice by Nadia L. Hohn


Program 3 – November 25 – “Turkey Thursday” – Celebrate Thanksgiving Differently-Abled Inclusion – Intellectual Disability – IEP Special Learning and Dyslexia Featured Books: Don’t Call Me Special | Mama God Papa God A Caribbean Tales by Richardo Keens-Douglas | Did you say Pasghtti? Dusty and Danny tackle Dyslexia by Tammy Fortune | Turkey Hokey Pokey


Program 4 – December 9 – “Go For the Torch” – Special Olympics Differently-Abled Inclusion – Physical Disability Featured Books: Don’t Call Me Special by Pat Thomas | We All Sing with the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and Shep Greene (video)

Activities: Miniature Games | Arts & Craft Activities


10_28_20: Boston Families Building Boston Schools Campaign

Dear Boston Families,
Yesterday morning, BPS announced that it was suspending in-person learning for the district’s most vulnerable students due to rising covid cases in the city of Boston, and all students will return to learning from home indefinitely.
We want to know how this impacts you and your family, and we are hosting our first Town Hall next Wednesday, October 28, as part of our Boston Families Building Boston Schools campaign. Please join us to let us know what you are seeing — and what you hope to see — in a quality distance learning program. How will your child be best served in these challenging times?
RSVP here
Wednesday, October 28 at 7pm
We are also hosting small group listening sessions of five to eight people. Please RSVP here if you want to participate in a small group listening session.
Questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us at
Stay well,
SchoolFacts Boston Team
1452 Dorchester Avenue, 4th Floor, Dorchester, MA 02122

November 19th: SpEdPAC Virtual Resource Fair

Join us on Thursday, November 19th at 6:30pm for our Virtual Resource Fair!  

We have 32 organizations presenting in 13 breakout rooms. 

Click here to Register! 
*Registration is not required but encouraged to help with planning*



Meeting ID: 851 7564 6894

Passcode: 560540

Dial in: 1 (929) 205-6099























Break Out Rooms


City Council Education Hearings

All hearings start at 4pm and will have public testimony. Please see below:
Todas las audiencias comienzan a las 4 pm y tendrán testimonio público. Por favor ver abajo:


Tuesday, Oct 20th: Public Testimony on any topic related to BPS
Martes 20 de Octubre: Testimonio público sobre cualquier tema relacionado con BPS
– Sign up for public testimony by emailing/Regístrese para recibir testimonio público enviando un correo electrónico


October 27th: – #BPSReady Reopening Plan
27 de Octubre: – Plan de reapertura #BPSReady
– Sign up for public testimony by emailing/Regístrese para recibir testimonio público enviando un correo electrónico


October 29th: Special Education Services (Dyslexia, Autism, and Inclusion) and Mental Health Supports
29 de Octubre: Servicios de educación especial (dislexia, autismo e inclusión) y apoyos de salud mental
– Sign up for public testimony by emailing/Regístrese para recibir testimonio público enviando un correo electrónico


November 12th: Facilities (including safety and securing measures, libraries, and BuildBPS environmental efforts)
12 de Noviembre: Instalaciones (incluidas medidas de seguridad y protección, bibliotecas y esfuerzos ambientales de BuildBPS)
– Sign up for public testimony by emailing/Regístrese para recibir testimonio público enviando un correo electrónico



Apply for a 4-year term on Boston School Committee

The Citizens Nominating Panel is now accepting applications for a four-year term on the Boston School Committee. The term currently held by Michael O’Neill will expire in January 2021. Applications must be received by 11:59 pm on Monday, November 16, 2020. Download the application here. Please direct all questions and submit completed applications to:

The Boston School Committee is the governing body of the Boston Public Schools. The School Committee is responsible for:


  • Defining the vision, mission and goals of the Boston Public Schools;
  • Establishing and monitoring the annual operating budget;
  • Hiring, managing and evaluating the Superintendent; and
  • Setting and reviewing district policies and practices to support student achievement.