Mike Contompasis

^ Mike Contompasis doesn’t look happy to be called back to duty…

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Yesterday Mayor Walsh announced that Michael Contompasis, former headmaster of Boston Latin School, would return, to serve as “interim” headmaster following the abrupt resignation of Lynne Mooney Teta.

Everybody seems pleased by this development. It is hard for me, graduate as I am of a different prep school, to dissent; after all, BLS is not my alma mater. I take full note of the applause given to Contompasis by the BLS family. I also know Contompasis from my years of activism in Boston school politics and in the West Roxbury-Roslindale-Jamaica Plain community. He is highly regarded, always has been. It wasn’t easy for him to succeed the legendary BLS headmaster Wilfr4ed O’Leary; but he did so, and alumni from his years atop BLS worship him. City Councillor Matt O’Malley seems to have played a significant role in convincing Contompasis to return to BLS. A BLS alumnus himself, he lauded Contompasis at the presser announcing the former headmaster’s return.

Almost certainly, Contompasis assuages the fears of BLS parents — and parents who hope to see their kids accepted in the future — that BLS might slack its rigor. And yet I wonder if they’re right.

First, Malcolm Flynn is evidently not coming back. Second, I am informed that Mooney-Teta was unwilling to come back. Thirdly, nothing said at the presser gave any assurance that BLS will not knuckle to critics.

How long will his “interim” last ? Will it be as consequential as John McDonough’s two years as Interim Superintendent ? Will Contompasis maneuver, as quietly but unsparingly as McDonough did, to assure reform of BLS without diluting its mission ? That is what we are being asked to accept; yet McDonough’s reforms, significant briefly, were not given time to harden; and today they are under attack from the forces (the teachers’ union and allied parents) that distrusted McDonough’s direction.I would be surprised if the same outcome did not overtake Boston Latin.

Hopefully the next permanent headmaster will not come from elsewhere than within the BLS administration, as McDonough’s successor Tommy Chang was brought in from far away. I do not trust the City’s administration to stand up effectively to street level demagogy. It has failed almost every confrontation with street protests so far.

That said, BLS is different. It is one school, not an entire school district. Its constituency is a powerful one, and focused. It is difficult, too, for the Mayor to talk — as he does — about assuring every kid a n excellent school while trying to finesse Boston Latin School. The willingness of Mike Contompasis to return to BLS probably removes this dispute from the Mayor’s 2017 re-election worries; but what then, come 2018 ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here anmd Sphere