Mayor Michelle Wu has vetoed a proposal to shift the Boston School Committee back to an elected body. Her decision on Friday crushed the City Council's effort to implement the change, which nearly 80% of Boston voters supported in 2021, the same year Wu was elected mayor.
“I deeply respect that the proponents of this proposal are motivated by a commitment to supporting Boston’s young people — a commitment I share with urgency,” Wu said in a letter explaining her rationale. “Respectfully, I cannot support legislative changes that would compromise our ability to stabilize and support the Boston Public Schools during this critical period.”
Wu’s move came 48 hours after the City Council narrowly advanced the proposal to her office on a 7–5 vote. Councilor Kenzie Bok voted present, effectively abstaining from the controversy.
The measure, a home rule petition, needed the mayor’s blessing to continue to the State House and the governor’s office.
Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who led the effort to bring the home rule petition, called the mayor’s veto “disappointing” given that there’s broad agreement the current mayor-appointed school committee structure needs reform.
“I know all of us — the mayor included — are united in making our public schools the best in the country and I do believe a governing change to the School Committee would help us get closer to that goal while empowering our school families and stakeholders,” Arroyo said in a statement.
Boston maintains the state’s largest public school system, and it’s the only school committee in the state of Massachusetts that is appointed by the mayor rather than being democratically elected.
The shift to an appointed school committee was made in 1992 under then-Mayor Ray Flynn.
Advocates for the return to an elected school committee have characterized the issue as one of civil rights and racial justice, a view referenced in a statement from Lisa Green, chair of the Bostonians for an Elected School Committee coalition.
“We believe the time is always right to do justice,” Green’s statement said. “99,000 voters demanded an end to Mayoral Control of Boston Schools in the last municipal election. The mayor today confirmed that she refuses to be held accountable to those voters, saying now is not the time.”
Green vowed to keep the issue alive and said the committee is exploring a possible campaign for a binding ballot referendum.
Wu has consistently opposed a fully elected committee but has at times seemed open to the ideas of a so-called hybrid model made up of mayoral appointees and popularly elected members.
A spokesman for Wu said the mayor will sign a separate measure intended to empower student school committee members to vote.