Boston School Board Members Resign After Racist Text Messages Emerge

Lorna Rivera told a colleague she was 'sick' of white parents

Lorna Rivera / YouTube screenshot
June 9, 2021

Two Boston school board members resigned after text messages surfaced in which they said they were "sick" of the district's "delusional" white parents.

Former Boston School Committee member Lorna Rivera said she was "sick of Westie whites" in a text message she sent to fellow former board member Alexandra Oliver-Davila during a committee meeting on admissions policies, the Boston Globe reported on Monday. "Whatever. They're delusional," Oliver-Davila said, in reference to parents from Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood. "Wait until the white racists start yelling at us," Rivera said in another text.

Rivera resigned on Friday, according to the Globe, and Oliver-Davila resigned Monday.

Rivera and Oliver-Davila sent the texts during an October 21 meeting on admissions processes for the district's three elite high schools. The committee voted to scrap the traditional admissions exam for a system that allocated seats based on a student's grades and ZIP code, which members thought would give priority to students in lower-income communities. Parents from West Roxbury objected to the proposal, which cut admissions from the wealthy neighborhood.

Rivera, a professor of women's studies at the University of Massachusetts, said in a statement to the Globe that the release of the messages constituted a "right-wing coordinated effort" to stop the board from making the October admissions change permanent.

The texts, obtained through an open records request, were not the first racially charged messages to stem from the meeting. Former committee member Michael Loconto was caught on a hot mic before the meeting mocking the names of Asian parents who signed up to speak. Loconto resigned the following day.

The Globe said it is unclear why the messages were only made public this week. The messages, considered public records under state law, were redacted from the transcript that Boston Public Schools initially sent the Globe—which, the paper noted, could violate state law.

The paper filed an open records request on October 22, asking for all emails and text exchanges between the board members that had occurred during the meeting. The Boston Herald filed a request for the same documents at the end of May, which the district has not yet completed.

Boston Public Schools director of communications Xavier Andrews called the messages "disappointing" and "hurtful" in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon and said that he will continue to work to "dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity" in the district.

"The challenges BPS face will require both district accountability and community healing. I will work alongside the Boston School Committee to continue our work with our stakeholders as we dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and open up access for our students," Andrews said. "The information shared recently is disappointing and hurtful to the Boston Public Schools community, and to our larger efforts to combat racism in all forms."