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Turhan Dorsey leaving after four years as city’s education chief

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Turhan Dorsey leaving after four years as city’s education chief
Turhan Dorsey. Banner photo

Turahn Dorsey, Mayor Martin Walsh’s chief of education, has announced he is leaving the position he has held since 2014.

During his four years in City Hall, Dorsey spearheaded efforts to redesign high schools, implement a new enrollment system that would simultaneously sign students up for charter and district schools, and launch the Walsh administration’s BuildBPS initiative.

“It has been an honor to serve the Walsh administration and, more importantly, Boston’s young people, educators and families,” said Dorsey in the statement to news media. “I look forward to supporting efforts to guarantee all of Boston’s children and youth the futures they deserve in both professional and volunteer capacities moving forward.”

The initiatives were among the Walsh administration’s most ambitious and most controversial. City officials have shelved the so-called unified enrollment plan Dorsey, and others announced in 2015, after it provoked fierce resistance from parent activists, many of whom were opposed to the increasing share of Boston state education funding claimed by charter schools.

The $1 billion BuildBPS plan, also unveiled in 2015, has advanced, but also sparked ire after BPS officials in October announced plans to close three schools. BPS officials have since revised their decision to close the McCormack middle school, but are still moving forward with plans to shutter the building that houses Urban Science Academy and West Roxbury Academy.

Dorsey’s high school redesign initiative, with its push for students to participate in work-based learning that would give them real-world experience, seemed to stall.

Dorsey’s departure comes as the School Committee seeks to hire a new superintendent, following the July departure of Tommy Chang, who held the position since 2014. In the meantime, Interim Superintendent Laura Perille is leading the department through the BuildBPS process, which seeks to close all six of the city’s middle schools as schools reconfigure into K-6, K-8, 7-12 and 9-12 models.

The plan also calls for the construction of new elementary schools in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, neighborhoods where the number of students exceeds the number of available seats.