Irate Hispanic parents walk out on Wilson

Plan citywide group to address problems

Angry parents walked out of a meeting last night with Boston School Superintendent Laval S. Wilson saying he refused to meet with them again to discuss how to alleviate problems that have plagued Hispanic students in the Boston school system.

After the heated meeting, which was closed to the public, the parents formed a new citywide group, the Hispanic Parents Association. They said Wilson told them they had focused too much of their attention on the South End and did not address citywide needs.

“We used certain schools as examples, but our demands are citywide,” Robert Meek said. “We know, believe me, we know that it is a citywide problem. We are trying to treat it as such.” Meek is director of human services for Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, a community service agency based in the South End.

Wilson could not be reached last night for comment.

Some of those attending the meeting said, however, that Wilson agreed to meet with parents once he saw a citywide coalition of parents working with representatives of the schools.

In recent months, Hispanic parents have started a campaign to combat the soaring dropout rate among Hispanic students.

Since 1982, Hispanics have had the highest dropout rate of any group in the Boston school system, according to the Massachusetts Advocacy Center.

In recent weeks, parents have cited problems at the Clarence R. Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, which many South End students attend, as examples of difficulties Hispanic students face.

After meeting with Wilson once in September, parents drew up a list of demands, including increasing the number of bilingual teachers, counselors and secretaries in the School Department and developing an alternative program for Hispanic students repeating grades.

Meek said none of the demands were discussed at last night’s meeting. “We started the meeting promptly at 6, and we argued until 7:30, when we said no more. We all walked out.” Meek said the new parent group, which will meet for the first time Dec. 7, will have representatives from all sections of the city.

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