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Boston Public Schools, DESE agree on improvement plan

Boston Public Schools students says they are concerned about safety
Boston Public Schools students says they are concerned about safety 01:56

BOSTON – Boston Public Schools will not be taken over by the state after a new plan was approved. The agreement was announced Monday night.

In the plan, BPS agreed to improve under-performing schools, make changes to special education, and work on student safety and transportation among other things. 

"DESE, BPS and the City were able to finalize the Systemic Improvement Plan today, and therefore Commissioner Riley will not ask the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to vote to declare the district underperforming," said Colleen Quinn, spokesperson for the Executive Office of Education.

The state Department of Secondary and Elementary Education will provide $10 million in financial support and technical assistance over three years for the work outlined in the plan.

"The Plan includes clear timelines and joint commitments to eliminate systemic barriers to educational opportunity, build the operational capacity to implement systemic change, and support Boston's students in achieving their full potential," Boston Public Schools said in a statement.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said, "This agreement documents specific steps, timeframes, and clear scope for a partnership with the state that sets our district up for success, and I'm glad that our discussions ultimately reinforced that Boston's local communities know best how to deliver for our schools."  

DESE will hire an independent auditor to ensure compliance. 

"At the end of the day, it's the mayor we need to thank. She took personal responsibility for the functioning of the school system and its improvement," said DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.

 "Our standards are higher than the collection of commitments outlined in this agreement. This document...represents the targeted areas of partnership with clear commitments from the city and the state on how we will move forward together but the work goes far beyond the four corners of this document," Wu said before the board on Tuesday. 

Parents and students are hoping the new plan will make a real difference with certain problems that became worse this school year.

"Every other day, I was getting a text message that this bus doesn't have a driver," said Leonette Lee, a BPS mom who lives in Dorchester.

She also worries about her kids' safety. "After the stuff happened in Texas, I called the school and asked them what are the safety protocols that you guys have in place? Someone was supposed to call me back, and no one's called me back," she said.

Safety is at the top of the bullet points that Boston Public Schools now promises to focus on in its new plan. Students said it's their top concern.

"When we do our practice for an active shooter, there's no place for us to go because the classroom has no big closet for us to go in, said 11-year-old Laylah Reid from Dorchester.

"They don't take things seriously," said 14-year-old Azariah Woods. "Especially with their safety protocols."

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