Education commissioner to recommend Boston Public Schools be declared ‘underperforming district’

·2 min read

Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley plans to recommend that Boston Public Schools be declared as an “underperforming district.”

In a statement, a department of education spokesperson said, “I wanted to let you know that DESE, BPS and City officials were unable to come to agreement. Therefore, Commissioner Riley will recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday that they vote to declare Boston Public Schools an underperforming district- this is not receivership but gives the Commissioner the authority to appoint an accountability monitor along with some other oversight ability.”

Declaring a school district underperforming is not receivership, the state noted. The district is still under control of the superintendent and school committee, and Boston is still running the district.

A district declared underperforming must put together a plan that is satisfactory to DESE, according to Riley. DESE has the authority to approve or reject the plan, and its timelines for making improvements.

Underperforming status also allows the commissioner to appoint an assistance lead, an accountability monitor and an individual or a team to conduct monitoring site visits, Riley noted.

Receivership means Riley can appoint a new leader, called a receiver, “who can be granted authority up to and including the powers of the superintendent and school committee.”

In the report released earlier this year, DESE stated that Boston schools are “dysfunctional,” “in need of immediate improvement,” and providing “inadequate services” to students, among other issues.

Mayor Michelle Wu previously told DESE that she opposes a state takeover, while Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is slated to step down at the end of the school year.

Mary Skipper, the current Superintendent of Somerville Public Schools, and Dr. Tommy Welch, the Region 1 School Superintendent in Boston, have been named as the two finalists who are in the running to replace Cassellius.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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