BOSTON (CBS) — Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang named Michael Contompasis as the interim headmaster at Boston Latin High School, a week after the school’s former headmaster resigned over allegations of racism at the prestigious school.
Contompasis, 76, previously served as headmaster at the school from 1976 to 1998. He will serve as interim headmaster for one year. Mayor Walsh said he hopes a permanent superintendent can be selected by March.READ MORE: 'Mecca Of Rowing': Head Of The Charles Regatta Participants Grateful For Event's Return
Contompasis graduated from Boston Latin in 1957. He was selected as the COO of Boston Public Schools in 1998, and served as the district’s superintendent from 2005 to 2007.
“I thank Superintendent Chang for providing me this wonderful opportunity to lead an institution which is such an important part of who I am today,” Contompasis said in a statement Tuesday from Boston Public Schools. “I understand firsthand that we all have a duty to preserve Boston Latin’s mission of providing the very best quality of public education. That includes making sure all of our students, faculty, and staff feel safe and supported.”
“I look forward to working closely with the many talented and dedicated individuals at Boston Latin and BPS as we carry this mission forward,” he said.
In January, a Boston Latin High School student group called B.L.A.C.K. (Black Leaders Advocating for Change and Knowledge) released a YouTube video raising concerns about racial slurs written online by white students. Later that month, Mayor Walsh called for an investigation into the allegations, and in March, a federal investigation was opened.
At the press conference Tuesday, Walsh said racial issues at Boston Latin are being addressed.
“I’m not saying that passion and anger shouldn’t be part of the conversation,” said Walsh. “Our job is to make sure that every student who enters a school feels safe and learns in an environment that’s conducive to learning.”
In addition to the selection of Contompasis, long-time Boston Public Schools educator Jerry Howland was named as associate headmaster, and Alexandra Montes McNeil was hired as the school’s instructional superintendent.
Howland is a 46-year veteran of the Boston Public Schools system who has won the “Golden Apple” and Massachusetts “Teacher of the Year” awards. He graduated from Boston Latin High School in 1966.READ MORE: Boston Mayoral Candidates Hit The Streets On First Day Of Early Voting
“What I love about Latin School is the fact that a kid from a housing project in Boston can get the highest-quality prep school education in a public school–at no cost to his parents,” Howland said in the Boston Public Schools statement. “I am that kid.”
McNeil has been in the Boston Public Schools system for 23 years and is a former assistant headmaster at Boston Latin High. She will assist the school in the areas of instruction, budget, and hiring.
“I hope it brings some understanding that we’re moving forward,” Mayor Walsh said at a press conference Tuesday of the new leadership selections. “We have a real opportunity here in Boston to set the tone for the rest of the world when these types of issues come up.”
In a letter to the Boston Public Schools community, Superintendent Chang said Contompasis and Howland had dedicated their lives to education.
“I have every confidence that Michael Contompasis and Jerry Howland have the deep experience, knowledge, and passion necessary to guide Boston Latin School through this transitional process,” said Chang.
Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O’Neill said Contompasis and Howland would be “invaluable.”
“These are two extremely thoughtful, caring, and dedicated educators who are both highly regarded in the city of Boston,” O’Neill said in the statement.
Boston Public Schools said Dr. Chang will name the co-chairs of a screening committee tasked with finding Boston Latin High School’s 28th headmaster in the coming weeks.
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