Boston School Superintendent Tommy Chang says he will soon announce an interim headmaster to replace Boston Latin High’s Lynne Mooney Teta, who resigned last week. A group of parents subsequently held a demonstration in front of BLS to protest Teta’s resignation and that of a key aide. They demanded that Chang and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh reinstate the popular but controversial principal.  The parents sought to keep the focus there, but race invariably seeped into the conversation.

The future of Boston Latin and the issues surrounding its tumultuous present are stirring the emotions of students, alumni and white parents like Kristie O’Brien of West Roxbury.

“My kids have worked so hard to get into this school. They weren’t given a ticket. They took a test. They did good. They’re holding they’re own. It’s a tough school. I don’t want that to go away.”

Kristen Johnson is co-director of the Boston Latin Parent group that organized the demonstration. She said the main question to Boston School Superintendent Tommy Chang is:

“What’s the plan? We have been in touch with [the] superintendent’s office. We hope to have a meeting with him to discuss what’s in the works. What is happening to our school next year?” 

Last Friday, nearly four dozen parents, students and alumni came out to support headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and Assistant Headmaster Malcolm Flynn.  Barb Peterlan, a co-organizer, said they represented a broad segment of Boston Latin’s community.

“We are here representing all 2400 students, not just a select group.”  To which Kristen Johnson added: “…and all those parents.”  

Yet, among the throng of parents, students and alumni standing on the school steps addressing reporters, not a single African American or Latino parent was represented; an observation that co-organizer Kristy Johnson addressed, reluctantly.

“I’m not answering your question. I don’t control parents who come or don’t come. That’s all I can say. It’s a weekday. It’s 10:30 in the morning. People work.  I work jobs, so I understand that people can’t just drop everything and come out to a rally."

One parent, Melanie Kelly of Charlestown, winced at the suggestion of a racial division among parents of Boston Latin students.

“And just because there isn’t a visible presence here doesn’t mean there isn’t the support. But we one-hundred percent the school and want to see the changes that are underway and make every student feel safe and comfortable. And we just think that people that were in place were the ones to do it.”

And it would be a mistake to view the support for the school administrators or lack of as a strict black white division. One African-American parent I spoke with recently expressed support for the beleaguered former headmaster.  But other black and Latino parents have long pressed for the removal of the headmaster, and this is the narrative that has played out in the media over the past six months. 

“Ah, I think it’s a great thing that a counter-argument, a legitimate one, finally arose to counter the one sided message we’ve had so far.”

Dan Brian is 15 and was among a cluster of current BLS students listening in the background. Brian said he was happy that a group of parents were standing up for the just resigned administrators in order to present a counter narrative to concerns raised by local civil rights leaders.

“I think it’s a really good thing that people finally stood up to support our administrators, who’ve been doing a great job for the last 10 years, and 50 years in Mr.  Flynn’s case.

And BLS Alumni President Peter Kelly sees it this way.

“Malcolm Flynn and Lynne Mooney-Teta, I think we all owe them a debt of gratitude for their service that goes well beyond what many can see.”

But Superintendent Tommy Chang has publicly stood by Teta over the last few months.  Even telling WGBH that he believes she has done a good job, albeit the mishandling of the incident that first raised concerns about racism at the school.  

“Yes, he has said that.”

Yet, Assistant Headmaster Malcolm Flynn, who resigned in protest, is not convinced that the School Superintendent had their backs.     

“He didn’t some up and say ‘this is not a racially toxic environment.  He didn’t say ‘the kids in that school are the most respectful kids that I’ve ever seen in a public school in my life.  He didn’t say all those things.”

Asked if he has any regrets, Flynn became visibly emotional.

“What I regret is…I won’t be here anymore.”   

For now, it’s unclear how will a national search be conducted for a new headmaster.  But perhaps even less clear: how will parents who are black, white, Asian and Latino resolve the issues impacting their beloved school, of which race is just one aspect of a complex set of problems?