The Chelsea School Committee voted down a resolution last Thursday night, June 25, that was meant to make a statement against police brutality against black people, a measure that was in line with Chelsea’s Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s bill filed in June.
The Committee, which is made up almost entirely of people of color, was in an odd position on Thursday night in that many felt the Committee wasn’t the right place to make such a stand. Rather, some felt it was the purview of the City Council and not the schools, to make that statement. Others disagreed with the language in the statement.
At the end of the night, perhaps one of the most racially diverse School Committees in the state had voted down a resolution condemning police brutality on people of color.
The vote was two in favor, one against, five present and one absent.
Those voting in favor were Roberto Jimenez and Marisol Santiago. Those voting against were Rosemarie Carlisle. Those voting present were Kelly Garcia, Lucia Henriquez, Ana Hernandez, Yessenia Alfaro and Henry Wilson. Jeannette Velez was absent.
Jimenez had resisted attempts to amend the resolution during the meeting, amendments which included replacing the word ‘brutality’ and other changes as well.
After the meeting, he said he was very disappointed with others on the Committee for not standing up.
“I am very disappointed that the School Committee wasn’t willing to take a stand on this resolution and affirm unequivocally that we have an obligation to protect the civil rights of our students, and to call out police brutality in Massachusetts and across the country,” he said. “About a dozen teachers came to speak at our meeting about racism within our school district, so these issues are real within our community. I wish the other members, besides Ms. Santiago who also voted Yes, had brought up their issues with the resolution and discussed them in the meeting, instead of just voting Present, or even worse, voting No.”
But not everyone was on the same page with that, and not because they didn’t agree in principal with the resolution. Some felt it simply wasn’t the forum to pass a resolution supporting a non-school bill filed by a member of Congress – a bill that several weeks ago was passed over a failed to gain momentum on Capitol Hill.
Chair Kelly Garcia said it was with good intent, but not everyone agreed with its presentation.
“That resolution – I don’t think the School Committee was the right place for it,” said Garcia. “It passed at the City Council and I think Rob should focus on how we can improve our schools.”