The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School — recipient of one of the all-time most outrageous New England Muzzle Awards back in 2017 — is in trouble once again, this time for its insistence on conducting the public’s business behind closed doors. Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports that state Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office has asked a judge to order that the taxpayer-funded school produce public documents it has refused to hand over despite requests at the local level as well as repeated demands by Secretary of State Bill Galvin.
🗽The New England Muzzles🗽
School officials claim they do not have to comply because Mystic Valley, based in Malden, doesn’t meet the definition of a “public school,” even though state law specifically describes charter schools as such. In any case, they say they won’t produce the records until a judge orders them to do so, notwithstanding the fact that the state public records law empowers the secretary of state to enforce the law.
The records, sought by Malden News Network, a local journalism outlet; Commonwealth Transparency, an advocacy group; and Malden mayoral candidate Lissette Alvarado cover a wide range of issues, including payroll, contracts, conflicts of interest, accountings of school income, copies of emails, and documents regarding Boston Globe stories about the school.
Now, to get back to that 2017 Muzzle Award from GBH News. During the 2016-’17 school year, Mystic Valley administrators began enforcing a dress-code prohibition against hair extensions, worn most often by Black female students. After parents complained about the clearly racist policy, school officials doubled down, leading to reporting by The Boston Globe and other news organizations. Yet the school refused to back down until then-Attorney General Maura Healey intervened.
That stiff-necked refusal to acknowledge its own wrongdoing obviously hasn’t changed over the years. When a judge finally orders the school to produce public documents, it will be interesting to see whether Mystic Valley complies — or if, instead, its administrators decide the judge somehow improperly claimed jurisdiction, or was wearing the wrong-colored robe or something.