Amid Racial Charges, Boston Board Fires Wilson
Allegations of racial injustice surfaced in Boston last week, when the school committee voted to dismiss Laval S. Wilson, the system's first black superintendent.
The 13-member Boston School Committee voted 7-to-1 on Feb. 13 to negotiate a buy-out of Mr. Wilson's contract before it expires in June 1991. All four black board members and one white member refused to participate in the vote, which at least one board member described as partially motivated by race.
"That man is black and they've been beating up on him since the day he got here," said John O'Bryant, the longest-serving black member. ''Without question, from my perspective, some of the people who voted to oust him had some racial motives."
Chanting "Selma! Selma! Selma!" and raising their fists, the four black members walked out of the meeting before the vote was taken.
Mr. Wilson also said he believed that race played a role in the vote.
But other committee members said Mr. Wilson's leadership style, not his race, spurred the board's action. Critics have repeatedly charged that the superintendent failed to build alliances with the city's parents and teachers.
A date for the superintendent's departure had not been set by late last week.
The unexpected vote on Mr. Wilson's future occurred after he refused to attend a private meeting of the school committee to discuss a review of his performance.
The 54-year-old leader assumed the superintendency in 1985. But his tenure has been tenuous since last June, when the board renewed his contract by a slim 7-to-6 margin. At that time, board members required the school chief to undergo a performance review every six months.
Mr. Wilson came to Boston from Rochester, N.Y., where he had been superintendent.
He is currently one of the finalists being considered to lead the Dade County, Fla., school system, which includes Miami.--lo