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Letter from the Board of Trustees

August 3, 2020

Dear Fellow Members of the BC High Community,

We hope that you and your families are continuing to stay well during these difficult times. We had a wonderful graduation ceremony for our seniors on Friday. We are extremely fortunate to have had both the space and the capabilities to hold a socially-distanced outdoor graduation on our campus with numerous precautions in place.

We promised to keep you informed about the investigation into racism and social injustice at BC High. A number of individuals have come forward and been interviewed by the team. We want to encourage additional members of the community to relay their experiences at BC High. So far, students, faculty and alumni have all participated. A diverse group of investigators at Latham & Watkins is waiting to hear your story. Your identity will be protected and shared only with Board members, if necessary, in certain situations.

It has been brought to our attention that not everyone is familiar with what spurred the need for the investigation which was unanimously supported by the Board. If you go onto Instagram and read the @blackatbchigh account you will understand the magnitude and depth of disturbing experiences that numerous individuals in our community have faced. There are a number of “BlackAt” accounts which have appeared regarding secondary and higher education institutions across the country. Here in Massachusetts, there are about a dozen of these accounts that we are aware of at secondary schools. BC High’s account is the second largest, with over 3,100 followers.

Latham encourages you to reach out to people whom you trust who have already been interviewed. Let them tell you what their experience was like as interviewees. Latham reached out to the creators of the Instagram account to allow us to post there to reach a wider audience. They were most gracious and posted the request. You may also contact Latham & Watkins directly at (617) 880-4665 or [email protected]

In addition to contacting investigators, we want to invite anyone in the community to reach out directly to the Board on matters of social justice and racism at BC High. Some of you have already done so. We have created a special mailbox which can only be accessed by members of the Board and the investigative team. Please email [email protected]

We hope that many of you were able to join in saluting the seniors, either virtually or in person, for a very special graduation in a most challenging year. The ceremony was recorded and will be made available for viewing. Please stay safe.

July 7, 2020

An Invitation from the Board of Trustees

As a follow up to our pledge to become a stronger, better, and more inclusive BC High, our first step involves gaining a better understanding of the experiences our students discussed on social media and their experiences more broadly surrounding diversity and inclusion on our campus.  The Board wants to hear as many voices as possible so that we can improve the learning environment and culture of the school.  Ultimately, the Board’s goal is to work with the administration to implement systematic institutional change where it is needed in order to make BC High a more diverse and inclusive place.

To that end, we are encouraging anyone who has had these types of experiences, including parents and guardians, to share their stories with our independent third party review team at Latham & Watkins LLP.  To encourage people to feel comfortable coming forward and sharing their experiences, the Board has decided that, absent express consent from anyone who elects to share, the identity of anyone who communicates with Latham & Watkins will not be shared with anyone other than the Board.  Again, the Board’s intent is to use this fact gathering to help us move forward and create a more inclusive environment at the school.

To help accomplish that objective, and in light of the COVID pandemic, anyone who wishes to share experiences along the lines of those expressed on social media or more broadly about diversity, equity, and inclusion, should reach out to Latham & Watkins directly in one of the following ways:
Should you wish to speak with one of the team members at Latham by telephone, please call (617) 880-4665.
If you would prefer to submit your experiences in writing, you can do so by emailing [email protected]

You may also request a videoconference with a Latham team member, if you prefer, either by calling Latham at the phone number provided above or through an email request at the email above.

As part of our ongoing commitment to make meaningful change, we hope to move through this fact-gathering process swiftly so that the Board can start to take definitive action.  Therefore, we kindly ask that you aim to share your experiences by Friday, July 31, 2020.

Additionally, we are mindful that some of you who want to share your experiences may be under the age of 18.  In such a case, we ask that any current student who is under the age of 18 communicate with Latham along with their parents or guardians and/or with signed parent/guardian permission.

Again, the Board wants to ensure that BC High is a safe and welcoming environment for every student.  We want to learn the ways in which we have fallen short of our ideals and how, as an institution, we can evolve and grow.

June 25, 2020

Much has happened in the world and in the BC High Community since you last heard from us on June 13th. This is one of several communications you will be receiving from the Trustees as part of an essential and ongoing dialogue with the school community surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We are, of course, aware of the postings on social media and allegations contained therein. In our last communication, we emphasized the need to take meaningful action and that is what we are doing. This week the Trustees held a Board meeting and unanimously voted to immediately launch an outside review of the climate at BC High by an independent third party. This will include input from online postings, phone conversations, emails, and other channels.

This comprehensive review, by its very nature, must be confidential. All parties involved need to feel comfortable coming forward and sharing information.

The Board considered several potential firms and has selected highly respected international law firm Latham & Watkins LLP. The partner leading the investigation will be BJ Trach, a former Assistant US Attorney in Massachusetts, a member of Latham’s Executive Committee, and former Global Chair of Latham’s Diversity Leadership Committee. In addition to leading investigations and trying numerous cases at the USAO, he previously served as a member of the Massachusetts Ethics Commission and on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.

We have begun the formal process of engaging Latham & Watkins as this investigation needs to begin immediately. The Board will quickly help develop a scope of work based on the expert advice of BJ and his team. Since that scope is not yet in place, it is impossible to set an end date. Be assured, however, that we will get to the bottom of these issues and reach conclusions as quickly as possible. At the end of the process, we will share what we have learned as well as recommendations and actions.

The Board wants to ensure that BC High is a safe and welcoming environment for all where everyone’s voices are heard. We want to learn how and where we have failed and how, as an institution, we can evolve and grow. We are committed to seeking the truth and becoming a stronger, better, and more inclusive BC High.

In partnership,
Chair, Kelly Mason Verrochi, P’15
Vice-Chair, Timothy O’Donnell, Esq. ’83
Incoming Chair, Rev. Michael McFarland, SJ
Incoming Vice-Chair, Serge Georges, Jr. ’88
Mr. Gregory Bulger ’68
Mr. Anthony I. Day
Martin Dunn DMD ’53
Mr. John Ferraro ’73
Mr. Robert Forman ’84, P’18,’20
Mr. Ifeanyi Obukwelu ’07
Mr. Kevin Powers ’85, P’16
Trustee Ex-officio, Grace Cotter Regan P’12

BC High Board of Trustees Finalizes End of Year Business and Prepare for Fall Transitions

From June 13

This week the Boston College High Board of Trustees (Trustees) held their annual end of year meeting culminating an unprecedented semester with optimism for the Fall. All members joined the virtual meeting and moved through a series of important agenda items including: Diversity and Inclusion, COVID-19 Response, Finance and Leadership transitions. Below is a summary of key decisions taken by the Trustees that will position the School for continued success.

Environment

We are living in challenging times, facing a world that we have not seen in our lifetimes. In March, the Trustees formed the COVID-19 Response Team to work closely with President Regan and other school officers to address the challenges presented by the unprecedented COVID-19pandemic. This team will continue to meet weekly throughout the summer with the focus on the September safe and responsible reopening strategy.

While the public health crisis caused drastic changes in daily operations, it also revealed again the disparities in our communities and the systemic racism that continuously exposes how unjustly many in our community are treated. At the outset of the annual meeting, the Trustees engaged in a very personal and authentic discussion about how to support, amplify the voices, and advance opportunity for all people – most importantly for those who are suffering debilitating historical and current injustices. No organization is immune from this injustice – including BC High. While conventional diversity and inclusion initiatives focus on employee engagement and belonging, our challenge must reach far beyond marginalization in the workplace or educational community.

The Trustees were clear on several points. First, the need to take meaningful action, and that action starts with each of us. It can’t be outsourced to a Task Force or to a staff member. Our collective responsibility is to understand more, to have more empathy and compassion, and to join in the fight whenever injustice is felt or seen, and to find moments to engage in authentic discussions. Second, the Trustees will seek to join as equal partners with the numerous other key stakeholders in our community to effect change. Third, it was unequivocally stated that BC High’s mission and values must ensure that all are afforded a culture and educational experience where differences in race, gender identity, sexual orientation or color are met with welcome and equal opportunity for achievement, support and success in the classroom and beyond.

Inclusion and a safe and welcoming environment must be for all. Injustice or exclusion of any group, segment, or individual will not be tolerated, consciously or unconsciously, at BC High.

2021 Financial Plan

The Finance Committee unanimously approved the 2021 school budget which allows BC High to continue operating at full capacity. Seventy percent (70%) of total budget expenditures relate to personnel costs. The 2021 budget contemplates no impact to teacher positions or benefits and full robust support for academic and historical programs. The economic uncertainties caused by the COVID19 pandemic have significantly increased the need for financial support for several families directly impacted by the crisis. The Board has approved increases in the 2021 Budget to provide adequate financial support to all those students and families who have unfairly been affected by the pandemic.

The first half of 2020 was a turbulent period for the financial investment markets. The endowment continues to be strong and is key to providing future support to families in meeting the cost of a BC High education. Anticipating future economic impacts yet to be seen and the continuation of market turbulence, the Trustees formed a separate investment committee with the single focus to oversee and monitor the endowment portfolio.

Leadership Transition

As we complete our terms of service in leadership to the Board, we are proud to have served with our fellow Trustees and what has been achieved. As a community, there have been a number of strategic accomplishments including the hiring and on-boarding of President Grace Regan, development of an institutional approach to strategic planning, the stabilization of the declining enrollment, establishment of a robust fiduciary framework, and the transformation of our financial fundamentals to position the School for long term sustainability and success.

The Board of Trustees have elected the following officers:

Rev. Michael C McFarland, SJ as the Chair of the Board of Trustees effective September 1, 2020. Currently, Fr. McFarland is the President of the Gregorian University Foundation, which raises needed funds for scholarships, academic chairs, libraries and capital improvements for the Pontifical Jesuit Higher Education Institutions in Rome. Fr. McFarland served as President of the College of the Holy Cross from July 2000-January 2012 and managed the institution through some very trying times. Fr. McFarland entered the Society of Jesus in 1975, Fr. McFarland has served as a BC High Trustee since 2018.

The Honorable Serge Georges, Jr. ’88 as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees effective September 1, 2020. Currently Judge Georges serves in the Boston Municipal Court, a position he began in November of 2013, serving the Boston community with honor. After graduating from BC High, Serge went on to study English at Boston College, and then studied Law at Suffolk University, earning his Juris Doctor degree in 1996. Judge Georges has served as a BC High Trustee since 2019.

During the leadership transition, the Trustee Officers will work together to build upon the Trustee membership with another new slate of Trustees for approval and on-boarding this fall and develop a transition leadership report to be provided to newly elected officers.

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The BC High Board of Trustees look forward to celebrating our 2020 Senior class on July 31 and to beginning a new school year with fresh leadership for a new decade of dedication advancing the BC High mission and values through education for all.

With Gratitude,

Chair, Kelly Mason Verrochi, P’15

Vice Chair, Timothy O’Donnell, Esq. ’83