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Boston Latin Academy staff push district officials to take action after voting no confidence in school leader | #schoolsaftey


In a letter to district leadership, Boston Latin Academy teachers expressed a variety of major concerns with Head of School Gavin Smith — from failing to clarify protocols on safety and behavioral incidents to conducting frequent and questionable investigatory meetings creating a “culture of fear and retaliation.” (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Boston Latin Academy teachers again pushed BPS leadership to take action to address major concerns with Head of School Gavin Smith in a letter Wednesday, following the superintendent’s refusal to oust the school leader after an overwhelming vote of no confidence weeks before.

“Following the vote of no confidence, the BLA educators of the BLA Faculty Senate wanted to make sure you have a summary of key concerns that we feel should be addressed by the Central office,” the BLA Faculty Senate letter addressed to Superintendent Mary Skipper, School Committee members and Chair Jeri Robinson reads, adding many are “actively compromising the student learning and educator working experience.”

BLA teachers announced that 85% of 109 faculty members voted no confidence in Head of School Gavin Smith on June 9, citing concerns about the working and learning environment with few specifics. Teachers at the exam school had reportedly met with the superintendent multiple times about their concerns before taking the vote.

Smith, a former teacher at schools including the O’Bryant School and Beacon High and Assistant Head of School at Fenway High School, was hired to the position in 2021 by the former BPS superintendent.

Under his leadership, the letter outlines, teachers have had a wide array of concerns.

The letter alleges several issues around Smith’s organization and responsibility, including charges of inconsistent and contradictory communications to staff, a lack of clear protocols on safety and behavioral incidents, and required meetings and processes being broadly neglected and ignored.

Starting on the first day of school, the letter states, many teachers and students didn’t even have complete class schedules.

Other allegations are more pointed at Gavin’s effect on the schools’ culture and values, including charges of frequent and questionable investigatory meetings creating a “culture of fear and retaliation,” “identity-based discriminatory behavior against staff and students,” and questionable hiring practices.

The vote of no confidence was taken as a “last resort” after two years, said BLA teacher Nicholas Ebisu, arguing Smith has gone so far as to “ridicule, harass and retaliate” against teachers expressing concern and making suggestions.

“BLA faculty strongly urges the superintendent and school committee to understand that after two years of leadership of incompetency and irresponsibility, any hope of future success at BLA must involve a change in leadership,” said Ebisu.

Despite the broad opposition among teachers, Smith has had a number of former mentees and students speak up on his behalf at School Committee meetings.

“I’ve seen Mr. Smith progress professionally and push peers, staff and myself towards excellence from 2019 until now, and I know he’s capable and qualified for this position and any higher position he decides to pursue,” Smith’s former student Libbah Israel said at Wednesday’s meeting, accusing the BLA teachers of hiding in an “incognito mob of online comments.”

Skipper has so far expressed no intention to take action against Smith.

“We’ve been working with the school, specifically the school leader Gavin Smith and the President of the BTU Jessica Tang, in an attempt to find common ground and frankly deescalate things,” Skipper said previously at the June 7 School Committee meeting. “We’re always going to focus on what is best for a healthy school culture and climate in support of our students.”



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