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Angry federal judge to consider whether Boston Public Schools deliberately deceived him by withholding School Committee text messages

A federal judge today brusquely dismissed a request by a BPS lawyer for more time to argue why he shouldn't re-open the exam-school case, because the parents in the case have raised serious legal questions he needs answers to now, or more specifically, by this coming Tuesday, the date he had originally set for her to respond to the parent group's request.

The attorney, Kay Hodge, says she needs the extra time because she is also representing the Boston Police Department in a federal discrimination case brought by G. Renee Payne-Callender, a Black woman detective, which is scheduled to start trial on July 13 and she's up to her ears already with that case and just doesn't have enough time to substantively reply to the group's motion.

Not my problem, US District Court Judge William Young replied today. In bolded text, he denied her request and told her he'll see her on July 9 for a hearing to discuss the request and her reply:

Motion denied. The Plaintiffs' Rule 60b motion [to re-open the case] raises profound and most serious allegations - potentially fraud on the Court. It must be addressed via a detailed written explanation (preferably accompanied by affidavits) and an oral hearing - and soon.

Judges require extraordinary reasons to re-open cases they've already decided, in this case that the examless system the School Committee approved to select students for the city's three exam schools this fall was not racially biased.

The parents group says its found such a reason in those "Westie Whites" text messages two School Committee members exchanged during the October meeting at which the plan was approved. Although the parents had filed a public-records request for all committee text messages during the meeting, they say those exchanges were withheld - and that they only found out about them after the court rulings when the Globe published them.

Hodge had asked for a delay until at least Aug. 17, because of the police-discrimination trial:

The trial, estimated by the plaintiff in that case to last at least two weeks, has and will continue to involve extensive trial preparations. The undersigned has simply been unable - and will continue to be unable until at least the trial’s end - to comprehensively review and analyze Plaintiff’s motion and arguments and then research and prepare an appropriate response thereto.

Hodge wrote that the NAACP agreed to her request and that even the parents group agreed to a delay, but to just July 26.

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Comments

Hodge should’ve said: “I’m sorry your honor, I’m busy with an actual discrimination case.”

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Voting closed 23

So a 71% decrease in the number of exam-school seats allotted to Chinatown students is not discrimination? And I suppose you think discrimination isn't behind the fact that Chinatown has lacked a permanent BPL branch over the past 65 years (and the city's recent announcement to postpone construction of such a branch until at least 2023)?

In what world is it fair, never mind equitable, to treat a low-income immigrant community like this, especially in a year when members of that community have been literally killed for just walking on the street? The answer is simple -- just replace "Chinatown" with, say, "Little Mogadishu", and tell me if you still stand by what you're implying.

Yes, the lawsuit is composed of quite a few white Westie families. But do you seriously expect the residents of Chinatown to have the financial means to pursue a lawsuit independently? (And do you expect that a community organization -- even if it had the means -- to take the "wrong" side of a lawsuit relative to the NAACP?)

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Voting closed 58

Let’s not forget that both courts have already slapped down the racist arguments & racist language of that embarrassing lawsuit. Not to mention that every Asian advocacy group in town signed on to joint statements & amicus briefs opposing. Head of someone in city hall should roll for withholding texts, but underlying premise of lawsuit is still racist & without merit.

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Voting closed 13

Short answer is yes.

I can understand why Chinatown residents are upset the same way I can understand how Westie parents are upset. The rules changed. But I don’t think that the new rules favoring zip code are any more discriminatory than the old rules.

This lawsuit is stupid, trying to hang onto a system that privileges a few people in Westie and Chinatown. I realize it’s not these residents’ job (and they’d no doubt be the first to say “not my problem”) but we need an education system that works for everyone regardless of which zip code they live in.

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Voting closed 12

What a shitshow.

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Voting closed 34

I guess I'll start reviewing what the other options are for 7-12 in the city since I'm not confident this will be anything other than a lottery by the time my kid is in 6th grade.

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Voting closed 34

It is rather sad that while everyone got amped about the release of the Rose documents, nobody is talking about this event which is an actual coverup. The city broke the law when it failed to release those texts. The fact that the acting mayor is silent on that, and people were actually calling for the person who leaked them to be outed is just sad.

If this administration truly believed in transparency, and was not trying to let this one blow over because it runs counter to their interests, we would already have answers.

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Voting closed 71

Of the year

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Voting closed 22

The city broke the law when it failed to release those texts.

Not necessarily. The comments were about people (Westie whities), not the matter being discussed (exam schools). That's not covered by public records law according to the guidance from the AG. That might be what a city attorney decided when not releasing the texts.

The real mystery is still how those texts made their way from the city attorneys to the Boston Globe.

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Voting closed 23

Uh no, it's called motive.

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Voting closed 14

There is at least one honest person in the City Hall?

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Voting closed 23

Limiting the texts to the matter at hand would eliminate texts like “do you want to go for pizza after?”, “did you like the ending of game of thrones?”, or “is your butt as itchy as mine?”.

Those would be texts unrelated to the matter at hand. Texts such as “the people from West Roxbury are entirely wrong” or “I hate white people”, would be related to the matter at hand because this whole thing is entirely about race and those neighborhoods. Those texts are related to a party involved in the debate.

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Voting closed 34

There's texts, would be texts, and statistics.

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Voting closed 14

That was for the city attorneys to decide. If one city attorney strongly disagreed with another city attorney, then the appropriate escalation would be to the state AG or Sec State office. Going straight to the Globe is wrong on so many levels.

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Voting closed 13

So inaccurate. The FOIA law requires that it be apparent when text considered non responsive is removed, so that the requestor is on notice of the removals and can appeal. Instead the City doctored the texts to look like nothing had been removed. The City doesn’t have a leg to stand on here.

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Voting closed 21

What exactly is a would be text?

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Voting closed 14

The AG guidance doesn’t say what you contend. Further, the AGO advises public bodies not to have offline communications as an end run around the open meeting law. Put simply, you are either not an attorney, or you are ignorant of this area of the law.

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Voting closed 15

The real mystery is still how those texts made their way from the city attorneys to the Boston Globe

You're kidding right? Unauthorized disclosure and anonymous sources are the lifeblood of the news media.

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Voting closed 17

The real issue is the lack of capacity in the exam schools. It looks like there is enough interest from the qualified Boston students for good quality high schools. The real solution is to open one or two new exam schools with same standard as BLS. With the sky rocketing real estate prices and federal assistance, there should be enough money to invest in the new exam schools. People are fighting on the wrong issue by focusing on changing the selection process for the exam schools. They should be pressuring the politicians to open new exam schools.

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Voting closed 22