Wellesley Public Schools Held Non-Whites-Only ‘Healing Space’ Over Zoom Following Atlanta Mass Shooting

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/05/20/wellesley-public-schools-held-non-whites-only-healing-space-over-zoom-following-atlanta-mass-shooting/

Did the Wellesley Public School system break the law when school officials excluded whites from an online event in March?

A group called Parents Defending Education thinks so, and the organization has filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The reason:  Wellesley Public Schools held an event over Zoom on March 19, 2021 with an invitation that said:  “*Note: This is a safe space for our Asian/Asian-American and Students of Color, *not* for students who identify only as White,” as first reported by Turtleboy Sports back in March.

The email message that went out across the district said that, “Today, our WPS Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host a Healing Space for Asian and Asian American students (grade 6-12), faculty/staff, and others in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community who wish to process recent events.”

The recent events it referred to were a slew of highly-publicized anti-Asian crimes that were in the news in early-to-mid March. That includes a March 16 mass shooting at an Atlanta spa that killed eight people, including six Asian women, as the email message noted.

After the school event on Zoom occurred, Wellesley superintendent of schools David Lussier sent out an email message defending the concept of “affinity spaces” in the school system.

“We have come to unequivocally affirm the importance of ‘affinity space,’ where members of historically-marginalized groups can come together in a spirit of mutual support and understanding of shared experiences,” Lussier said in the email message.

He added:  “The goal was to provide a safe space in which students and staff could reflect, share, and be supported as members of our school district. At the same time, we can also understand the discomfort that some members of our community have shared when learning of a practice that they perceived to be discriminatory. It’s important to note that affinity spaces are not discriminatory.”

The superintendent’s email message does not say how “affinity spaces” are not discriminatory.

Parents Defending Education says they are, in a complaint filed May 12 with the federal Department of Education. By telling white students not to attend the online event, the organization says, Wellesley school officials violated the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal constitution, which guarantee against discrimination on the basis of race.

Parents Defending Education requested that the U.S. Department of Education “promptly investigate the allegations in this complaint, act swiftly to remedy unlawful policies and practices, and order appropriate relief.”

Wellesley Public Schools sent NewBostonPost a statement on the matter on Thursday evening. A portion of the statement follows:


In an effort to further define this district invitation to an individual class of students in a developmentally appropriate manner, one of our teachers noted that this particular space was not designed for students who identify as white. The teacher’s intent, however imperfectly stated, was to help early secondary students better understand the intended audience for this affinity space, not prohibit anyone else from attending. No students or staff were turned away from participating in the healing space. In fact, participants on that day represented a range of racial groups, including white participants. 

As conversations around race and equity have increased both in urgency and intensity, our students, parents, and staff have sought greater opportunities to lean into these issues through dialogue to elicit and provide feedback, seek improvement in our district, and build empathy and understanding. These conversations are often deeply personal and emotional, particularly as we have heard first-hand experiences from alumni and current students who have shared ways that they have often felt unwelcomed or have been subjected to both overt and subtle racial microaggressions in our district. 


New to NewBostonPost?  Conservative media is hard to find in Massachusetts.  But you’ve found it.  Now dip your toe in the water for two bucks — $2 for two months.  And join the real revolution.