The Boston school committee member replaced after abstaining from a controversial vote to close two high schools says she was “surprised” by the move.
“I was eager to serve a second term and passionate about closing the opportunity gap for as many marginalized students as possible,” Regina Robinson wrote in an email.
Robinson, the dean of student affairs at Cambridge College, was the only school committee member to abstain from a Dec. 19 vote to close West Roxbury Academy and Urban Science Academy in June. The schools are located in the West Roxbury Education Complex, a building interim superintendent Laura Perille said needs costly repairs and recommended closing at the end of the school year. The students, many of whom are in special education or are still learning English, will be moved around the district.
Before voting, Robinson said she couldn’t support the plan because it would cause “too much disruption to a vulnerable population of students.” The remaining five members in attendance voted for the closure, which was presented as part of Mayor Marty Walsh’s $1 billion project to modernize Boston’s schools.
“I tried to speak up for truth,” Robinson wrote in an open letter to Boston students about her time on the committee. “I tried to stand up for equity.”
Read Robinson's letter:
Dear BPS Students-1_3_19 by on Scribd
Robinson’s departure comes amid heightened criticism of the way Boston Public Schools are governed. Boston is one of the few U.S. cities where the mayor appoints school committee members and controls the school budget. Last month, during a hearing at Boston’s City Hall, some parents, civil rights activists, and elected officials called for at least some of the school committee members to be elected, complaining that Walsh has too much control over Boston’s schools. Robinson’s replacement on the school committee has fueled speculation about Walsh’s influence.
“School Committee member Regina Robinson was passed over for another term by Mayor Walsh. Let no one say abstentions have no repercussions,” the Boston-based parent activist group QUEST tweeted from its official account.
Walsh wouldn’t say whether Robinson losing her seat was a direct result of her abstention.
“I appreciate the diverse viewpoints of members of School Committee, and believe they lead to a more productive conversation about how to best move our schools and students forward,” Walsh wrote in an emailed statement. “I thank Regina for her years of service as member of the Boston School Committee.”
Robinson, who has children attending Boston public schools, declined to speculate.
“There was a different candidate in mind,” she wrote.
Walsh appointed Quoc Tran, a civil rights administrator, to the post held by Robinson. Tran is the secretariat deputy director of the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. He has children studying at Boston Latin School and will be the first Asian American appointed to the committee in over a decade.
Tran and Robinson were among six finalists recommended for two open seats by a panel of parents, teachers, business and higher education leaders. The other seat went to returning committee member, Jeri Robinson.
Tran and Jeri Robinson will be sworn in on Jan. 7.
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