School Committee Chair Michael Loconto resigned following comments he made during the marathon Exam School hearing on Oct. 21 that seemed to mock the names of Asian parents testifying against the change to the process.
Loconto resigned on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 22, and issued an apology later.
“I want to apologize for the comments I made last night,” he wrote. “It was not ever my intention to mock anyone. I know what was in my head and in my heart, but I make no excuses. I know how my words were heard and how they hurt. I have always tried to lead my life, publicly and privately, by treating people with dignity and respect. To those who I offended, I offer again my sincerest apology and ask for your forgiveness.”
The matter was first pointed out online by Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, who was watching the hearing live and questions what was just said. By Thursday morning early, the councilor had called on him to resign.
“Mr. Loconto’s behavior last night was unacceptable,” said Essaibi George. “I’m deeply appalled, personally offended, by his words. I watched and heard it live. It is unconscionable that he would mock and disparage our families. Our school communities and our City deserve more. It’s time for his resignation.”
The comments came at around 11:30 p.m. in a meeting that began at 5 p.m.
When three speakers against the plan were announced, two of them with Asian names, Loconto appeared to allegedly mock their names in introducing them – though he disputed that later in the meeting saying he was referring to a children’s book character in a light moment.
“So, that was Shinya Shan Shan na and boo boo and David,” he said according to the live transcript.
Later a letter signed by 17 Boston elected official, including Councilor Lydia Edwards, decried the incident.
“This type of discrimination cannot and will not be tolerated from any leader who has the privilege of serving our communities, especially at a time when we should all be coming together to solve the crises stemming from this pandemic,” read the letter. “Mr. Loconto’s resignation is a step in the right direction. But we must not lose focus. We must restore trust with BPS families, and urge action to ensure accessibility, inclusion, and equity in all decisions in the City of Boston, Suffolk County, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”