US Attorney Carmen Ortiz Launching Civil Rights Investigation Into Boston Latin School

A recent report found seven incidents related to race and ethnicity at Boston Latin School.

The U.S. attorney in Massachusetts is launching a civil rights investigation into allegations of racism at Boston Latin School, the nation's oldest public school.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the probe was prompted by a written complaint from civil rights organizations and community members that raised concerns about racial harassment and discrimination, among other alleged problems, at the prestigious school.

"We will conduct a thorough investigation into the recent complaints about racism" at Boston Latin, Ortiz said in a statement.

A recently released Boston Public Schools report found seven incidents related to race and ethnicity at Boston Latin between November 2014 and January 2016.

According to the school district's Office of Equity, the administration mishandled one such incident, which occurred in November 2014 when a white male student allegedly made a racial slur about lynching to a black female student.

Another incident later that month involved racially charged social media posts, which were brought to the attention of the headmaster by two black students. Four students accused of making some of the posts met privately with school administrators and "there were no further issues," the school said.

The office issued a set of recommendations to district Supt. Tommy Chang in order to "improve the culture and climate" at the Boston Latin School, which Chang pledged to implement.

Chang and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are cooperating with the investigation, according to Ortiz, although Walsh previously said, "I don't think a federal probe is necessary."

In a statement, Walsh and Chang said the investigation will look into the school's culture and other allegations, and will "make recommendations on how the district should move forward."

Community leaders in Boston have said they're not happy with the findings of the Office of Equity's investigation.

Meanwhile, the Boston's NAACP branch is calling for Boston Latin's headmaster, Dr. Lynne Mooney Teta, to step down.

"After weeks of self-reflection and frank conversations, I realize that in important ways I have not succeeded," Mooney Teta wrote in an open letter to the school community last week. "I am truly sorry."

Boston Latin was founded in 1635 and names among its notable alunmni five signers of the Declaration of Independence, including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

Ari Mason contributed to this report.

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