Boston schools students accuse school committee of ‘racism,’ slam nonprofit it works with

A half-dozen Boston Public Schools students are accusing the School Committee of “adultism” and “racism” and harshly criticized a support group for members of the Boston Student Advisory Council.

“This is an emergency,” said Khymani James, a Boston Latin Academy senior who resigned on Thursday as both the School Committee’s sole student representative and a member of BSAC.

“From censoring our remarks and questions that would get to the truth of the matter, to micromanaging our interactions with BPS personnel, we were never given a chance to hold the district accountable,” he said on Saturday.

He added: “As students who live with the benefits and consequences of our education system, we are the checks and balances of the entire system, and we hereby find it guilty of its crimes against students, specifically students of color.”

James, speaking at a press conference he called, said the head of a nonprofit called Youth on Board has been overbearing with unsuspecting members of the student advisory council. He even likened it to a “cult.”

In an email Saturday, Jenny Sazama, director and co-founder of YOB, said: “Youth on Board stands above all for the power of youth voice … As part of our program, we offer optional gatherings for an hour every two weeks as a basis for providing emotional support to students through supportive listening. A permission slip signed by a parent and the student is required for participation. No student was ever compelled in any way to attend, and students were not paid to attend these sessions. Student information is held in strictest confidence.”

Danyael Morales, a Boston Latin Academy freshman, said students have been “dehumanized,” “used” and “played” by adults who are “manipulative” and “condescending.” He did not offer specific examples.

In a statement Saturday, BPS and the School Committee said they “deeply value the voice of our students and work to offer opportunities for them to be heard. The Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) is one of the many ways students speak on behalf of their peers and inform school district policy.”

The district continued, “We strive to create environments where young people can bring their unique student experiences to every conversation, to ask challenging questions, and to co-create solutions. Working alongside Youth on Board, our staff will take steps to engage BSAC members and determine how we work together to move forward. The Committee and district will continue conversations with BSAC members to hear their concerns and honor and amplify their voices in our decision making.”

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