The headmaster at Boston Latin School, America's oldest public educational institution, has stepped down following accusations that she failed to act on racism against Black students. Both Lynne Mooney Teta and assistant headmaster Malcolm Flynn have now resigned from the school.
Black students say that racial tensions began following the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014. The shooting prompted debate and divisions among the student body and deteriorated into overt racism.
Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau, members of the student group B.L.A.C.K., came forward to say that one Black student was threatened with lynching while white students would walk the halls saying n****r without "fear of being reprimanded." When they confronted headmaster Teta with evidence of the racism, they said no action was taken.
The racism present at BLS made national news when an English teacher asked another student, 16-year-old Destinee Wornum, "What's up my n****r?" during a class discussion. This angered students and parents alike. Wornum felt comfortable coming forward about her treatment thanks to the hashtag #BlackAtBLS, which was aimed at targeting racism within the school's halls. The group even received support from Boston mayor Marty Walsh, who met with students in the group.
Following the released report of the threatened lynching, NAACP's Boston chapter called for the headmaster's firing. A district investigation followed, but in May, Noel and Webster-Cazeau came forward to voice their complaint that nothing had changed since the school investigation.
Last week, the headmaster and her assistant stood down amidst the rising criticism. "This has been a very difficult decision, but one which I believe is in the best interest of our students, faculty and our historic institution," Teta said in a statement. "I believe that it is time for a new headmaster to lead the school and carry on the tradition of excellence."
The Boston Globe reported that while 23 percent of the prestigious school's student body was Black 20 years ago, the demographics have shifted since, with only 9 percent of the student body being Black students and 12 percent Hispanic.
(Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)