In an angry outburst, a group of parents last night forced the Boston School Committee to listen to their harsh criticisms of the Cape Verdean bilingual education program despite an initial attempt to prevent them from speaking.
The Cape Verdean bilingual education program, which has about 310 students, was divided between the Madison Park High School complex and South Boston High School as a result of the committee’s controversial closing and consolidation plan.
In the past, the program, which has been lauded by parents, was housed entirely at Madison Park. But now about 230 students are located at South Boston, while the remaining Cape Verdean students remain at Madison Park.
Visits to South Boston by parents and officials of the Boston Teachers Union have revealed severe overcrowding problems, teachers being assigned a large number of students and complaints from some students that they feel unwelcome in South Boston.
“We want our students to have the same quality education just like anybody else,” said Franciso Fernandez, a parent of a Cape Verdean student during the committee meeting. “It’s like we’re the leftovers and you put us wherever you please.”
A dispute broke out between the committee president, Thomas O’Reilly, and some of the Cape Verdean parents when O’Reilly at first was not going to allow the parents to speak. O’Reilly pointed out that public comments are usually heard at the beginning of School Committee meetings.
But O’Reilly relented after committee member Abigail Browne said, “These parents have taken great pains to come here tonight. We deserve to give them the courtesy to speak.”
Superintendent Laval S. Wilson said he is considering various options to deal with the problems, including adding more teachers to the program. But he indicated that there were no plans now to return the program to Madison Park, as the parents demanded.
Anthony Molina, president of the Bilingual Master Parents Advisory Council, who has clashed with Wilson about issues affecting linguistic minorities, said, “Once more the linguistic minorities find ourselves shortchanged and without resources to remedy this shameful situation.”
Similar complaints have been voiced by parents of children enrolled in the Haitian bilingual education program, which is now divided between Hyde Park and West Roxbury high schools, and a meeting is scheduled Sunday by community activists to air concerns.
In other business, the committee voted to direct Wilson to reopen talks with the Building and Constructions Trades Council on a new Compact agreement to assure city students access to the council’s union apprentice programs.
Last month, Wilson barred the council from using the Hubert Humphrey Occupational Resource Center in Roxbury for some of its apprentic programs because of a dispute between the superintendent and the trades unions over the number of city students who have been accepted into apprenticeships.
“This is an important program for our kids and we should do everything possible to make sure it stays in Boston,” O’Reilly said.