School Committee to Discuss Redistricting Map
Discussion scheduled for 8:25 p.m., Thursday, at Arlington High School.
The Arlington School Committee on Thursday will discuss the controversial release of a redistricting map containing approximate address information of special education students.
Schools Superintendent Kathleen Bodie in November apologized for the release of the map, which she said was “mistakenly released.”
The map was distributed at the latest meeting of the schools Redistricting Committee, which is charged with figuring out new boundaries for individual districts to alleviate overcrowding at some schools.
At the meeting, committee members were given black-and-white copies of several maps. One of them contained dots showing the locations of students, including one that showed where special education and non-special education students live.
The locations were unclear on the black-and-white map distributed to committee members but visible on a color copy released to at least one Arlington news outlet. The map was live for a few hours but taken down at the request of parents.
Thursday marks the first public discussion since the map was released, which caused much discussion among parents concerned about confidentiality of special education students.
One parent, who asked her name not be used to protect her special education child’s identity, told Bodie in an email that the release of the map was an “outrageous and gross breach of confidentiality.”
“Your disregard for the right to privacy and confidentiality of the special ed students who live in Arlington is an embarrassment, frankly,” the parent wrote. “I hope you will endeavor to better protect the rights of some of Arlington’s more vulnerable residents in the future.”
Trish Orlovsky, chair of Arlington's Special Education Parents Advisory Council, said an apology to parents "does not begin to make amends for the damage done."
"I sincerely hope the administration takes full responsibility for this, with the School Committee, and conducts a complete investigation, as well as comprehensive recommendations and steps to ensure this will not ever happen again," Orlovsky wrote in an open letter to Bodie.
In an email, School Committee Chair Cindy Starks confirmed the discussion of the redistricting map will take place at 8:25 p.m., under the agenda item outlined as redistricting. The item was allotted 20 minutes by the committee, which will be distributed under a timeline discussion for redistricting and communication about the process.
The Arlington School Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, at Arlington High School’s sixth floor committee meeting room.
Next Tuesday, the full Redistricting Commitee meets at the same meeting room starting at 7 p.m.