November 22, 2016
The Boston School Committee voted last Wednesday to accept Superintendent Tommy Chang’s proposal to shut down the struggling Mattahunt Elementary School next June 30 and reopen it as an Early Education Center the next day.
The day after Mattahunt community members gathered to propose and discuss alternatives to the superintendent’s plan for keeping the failing school from potential state receivership, Chang pitched the initial early education center to the school committee, which readily approved his proposal, with six members voting in favor and one absentee.
Lincoln Larmond from Mattapan United, which had helped to shape the alternative proposals, released a letter to the community on Thursday. In a sharp rebuke to elected officials, he expressed his pride in the commitment he has seen from community members and noted the frustration he feels toward officeholders, who, he wrote, were neglectful in protecting the school.
“This is a time to stand up with the community, but not only are our elected officials not standing up with us, they are silent and nowhere to be found as the community grieves,” Larmond said in his letter to Mattapan’s legislative delegation. “Mattapan needs to fight for our children and our community,” Larmond wrote. “Who will fight for us? On this issue, I am sad to say it is not any of you (except for Andrea). The community deserves better. Our children deserve better. So, we will fight. This is not over.”
Larmond’s “Andrea” reference in his letter was to City Councillor Andrea Campbell, who has said she is opposed to Chang’s proposal.
Despite the lack of support for Chang’s plan from the Mattapan community that Larmond cited in his letter, BPS spokesperson Dan O’Brien said in a statement: “Boston Public Schools will continue to work with the community on making a smooth transition for students currently attending the Mattahunt School. We will listen to all viewpoints as we create a leading early education center that supports trauma-informed care.”
According to the proposal Chang presented to the school committee, current Mattahunt students will receive one-on-one support in selecting a new school, and will be guaranteed a seat at a Level 3 or higher school. BPS also committed to providing social and emotional support to students as they transition to a new school.
“There is an entire ecosystem that gets disrupted when displacement occurs that impacts both children and parents,” Larmond wrote. "Furthermore, we believe that displacing our children introduces them to unnecessary trauma."
Over the next few weeks, there will be design group meetings and steering committee meetings, including two school-based information sessions on Nov. 30.