Student Response and Resistance
As the implementation of Phase II began in September 1975, more students became directly affected by Boston’s integration efforts. Phase I, centered around neighborhoods in Roxbury and South Boston where black and white students lived near each other, caused increased division in neighborhoods that were already racially polarized and initiated the spark of protest against Judge Garrity’s plan. The second phase involved more school districts and neighborhoods and while offering students the option to select desired school choices, still left the final decision for attendance assignments up to the school committee. Areas that had avoided the aftermath of Phase I felt the effects of busing more acutely once the plan included the neighborhoods of Charlestown, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, and Roslindale among others.
Despite the negative public reactions and violent incidences that stemmed from the early busing, officials hoped for success and peace at the beginning of the 1975 schoolyear. They expected higher attendance, more successful bus arrivals, more efficient safety regulation, and overall better reactions than illustrated in South Boston and Roxbury. Unfortunately, the statistics told another story. An attendance report taken for the first week of school recorded that from elementary to high school, only 24,630 out of 38,504 white students, 21,722 out of 29,369 black students, and 5,757 out of 8,254 students of other races attended school. This reflected a 68.4% decrease from the projected enrollment, further reinforcing the spirit of apprehension and resistance to these desegregation efforts.
While some students accepted the adjustments to enrollment assignments and overall integration efforts, others fed into the atmosphere of resistance and defiance. Roughly a month into the school year, 175 white students staged a walkout from Charlestown High the morning of October 14, 1975. Two days later, an entire bus full of black students from Roxbury refused to get out to upon arrival to the same school and were eventually driven back home. Reports of student on student and student on faculty assaults escalated within the next few weeks. In one incident, a teacher at the Edison School in Brighton was instructing a 13-year-old female from Roxbury against disrupting the class when the student proceeded to grab the teacher by the hair, pull her to the ground, and punch and kick her in the stomach and back. Less violent incidences and forms of protest also occurred such as the passing out of pamphlets by Hyde Park students including the phrase, “Stop Phase 2 – Fight for Decent and Equal Education.” By the end of the first month of the school year, one report claimed that out of Brighton, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, and East Boston, nearly 700 students had been suspended. Related to busing or not, these suspensions attest to the unhealthy climate of the Boston area schools at the outset of Phase II.
Throughout this continuing phase of desegregation, a disconnect existed between the media and official portrayals and what occurred within the schools. Many could have believed that the tension and violence of Phase I had dissipated and students were settling in to their new surroundings. Unfortunately, a student-generated call to action spoke otherwise when it articulated city-wide demands. It stated, “We demand that the School Dept. Public Information Center report to the News Media all incidents including teacher assaults, that occur daily in the schools. We demand that the News Media report All incidents, that occur in the schools, not just the ones they choose to make public.”
Through both violent or non-violent reactions, students reiterated much of the public sentiment against Phase II. Attendance suffered, race-related division and tension increased, and the quality of many student’s educational experience was significantly impacted, leaving many to continue questioning the integrity of Judge Garrity’s integration plan.
 Clergy Committee, “Suspension Figures (School Department),” October 28, 1975.
 “Citywide Boston Students’ Demands,” April 5, 1976.