Quincy officials address issues of racism and culture in high school

QUINCY — School officials say they have “heard concerns” from community members and plan to implement “restorative justice practices” and curriculum changes after high school students were recently pressured out class by what they say is a mishandling of incidents of accusations of racism and sexual assault in the school system. The outing sparked similar action from students at Braintree.

Superintendent Kevin Mulvey addressed the school board this week to talk about how the district is handling the “very, very big” issue of racism within Quincy Public Schools. The district reported three incidents of racism or hate speech between high school and middle school students between Nov. 5 and Nov. 12.

Since the incidents, Mulvey said the district has punished the students involved, held meetings with staff and families, held student forums at both high schools, and consulted with the state Department of Education. Mulvey said details of exactly how the students were punished could not be shared due to confidentiality.

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“Disciplinary action was imposed and it was done fairly in all of these incidents,” Mulvey said. “No disparate disciplinary action was taken.”

Quincy High School Principal Lawrence Taglieri and Vice-Principal Ellen Murray confront students after a walkout to protest racism at the school on November 12, 2021.

Deputy Superintendent Erin Perkins said the past few weeks have been filled with “a lot of listening.” The district plans to revise and update the student manual; providing staff with culturally appropriate pedagogical training; and updating the curriculum by incorporating books by diverse authors, updating the history and culinary curriculum to include more diverse representation, and adding courses focused on culture and social/emotional learning.

November 12: Students walk out of Quincy High to protest racism and hate speech

Perkins said the desire for an updated program was “heard loud and clear”. She said students have requested required readings that are more relevant to their lives and in which they can “see themselves.”

Student Justin Chan holds a sign during a Quincy High School walkout to protest racism at school on November 12, 2021.

From a story perspective, Perkins said it’s important that lessons don’t just “highlight cultures once a month or once a year, e.g. Blacks… That we incorporate that throughout the program.” She said the idea of ​​incorporating more diverse dishes into the culinary curriculum came from the students themselves.

“I just want the school community to know that we take this very seriously,” Mulvey said. “We are moving as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible to address any concerns our parents, students and community stakeholders have regarding these very large and very difficult conversations.”

Quincy High School students took to the streets in a walkout to protest racism at school on November 12, 2021.

Other ideas the district is exploring include a student mentorship program; peer mediation, which would allow students to solve certain problems among themselves; training in restorative justice practices for students so they can lead their own community circles; and the establishment of student-led assemblies.

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Contact Mary Whitfill at mwhitfill@patriotledger.com.

Carol C. Reed