Recent Stories

Group with Haverhill Ties Drops State Education Lawsuit; Will Monitor Student Opportunity Act

The group of parents, students and advocates who sued the state last summer alleging unconstitutional disparities in public school funding said they’re dropping that lawsuit, describing themselves as “pleased” with the legislature’s education finance overhaul and Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to implement the first year of it. Haverhill parent Ted Kempinski, a Haverhill High School history teacher with three children in the city’s public school system, and another Haverhill family were among several plaintiffs in the case that alleged chronic underfunding that unfairly leaves wide swaths of students behind compared to their peers. In June—months before the Senate or the House took up a bill rewriting the funding formula with a focus on costs associated with special education, teaching low-income students and English learners and employee health care—the group from Haverhill, Lowell, Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Orange and Springfield filed a Supreme Judicial Court lawsuit against state education officials. Since then, both legislative branches unanimously passed and Baker signed a bill that commits the state to $1.5 billion in new K-12 education funding over seven years. Next year’s budget will be the first to contain the new money, and the $44.6 billion fiscal 2021 spending plan Baker filed last week includes $355 million associated with the law.

Haverhill School Committee to Develop Policy on Work-At-Home Employees

With a background of more than 30 years in teaching in the Haverhill Public School System, School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais has heartfelt opinions on what issues are most important to educators and students—some of which she raised at last week’s School Committee meeting. One of those issues is the need for a written policy regarding public school employees working from home. School Superintendent Margaret Marotta says, actually only one school system employee works from home, a systems analyst who has been doing so since 2012. Donais claims that that isn’t the case. “That is not the information that I have been told throughout a number of schools.

Haverhill Begins Early Presidential Primary Voting Monday, Feb. 24; Register by Feb. 12

Haverhill residents may cast their ballots early for presidential party nominees next month. The Massachusetts presidential primary is Super Tuesday, March 3, but residents may vote as early as Monday, Feb. 24, at 8 a.m., in the basement of Haverhill City Hall. Early voting for president takes place for the first time this year, says City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas. Early voting runs through Friday, Feb.

Haverhill Schools Put ‘Germ Blasters” to Use to Help Contain the Flu Virus

Haverhill Public Schools are using portable “germ blasters” to control the flu, which has sidelined students and staff alike. Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling shared with the media information sent to parents about the Evaclean Protexus Electrostatic Sprayer. The School Department is using three of them and is working to obtain one more. The manufacturer describes the cordless, gun-like device as a “touchless electrostatic disinfection and sanitizing system built around one standardized process and a safer chemistry with two advanced products—Protexus sprayers and PurTabs electrostatic disinfection.”

In addition, the district has stocked up on disinfecting wipes, spray and hand sanitizers. School Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas recommends flu shots.

Plaistow, N.H., Changes Location of Deliberative Session to Pollard School

Plaistow, N.H., has changed the location of its “Deliberative Session” to Pollard School, 120 Main St., Plaistow. The session takes place Saturday, Feb. 1, 9 a.m., in advance of the annual Town Meeting. A “Deliberative Session” gives voters a chance to discuss amendments to budgets and warrant articles before the onslaught of all items, including the budget, warrant articles, zoning amendments, etc., appearing at Town Meeting Tuesday, March 10.

Haverhill MultiCultural Festival Names Kelley as Project Manager; First Event is June 20

Shawna Kelley has been named as project manager for next June’s MultiCultural Festival. Kelley is a graphic artist and her hobby of working at music festivals, like Newport Folk Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and Rhythm and Roots Festival, merged with her art when she became the concert program manager at Brandeis University after moving to Haverhill in 2004. “Shawna will bring a fresh new perspective from the view of an outsider looking in, which is what we need for this event to take off and soar to great heights in our first year of hosting a Multicultural Festival,” said Haverhill Cultural Council Chairman Nathan E. Webster III. Kelley previously operated Artmosphere, formerly the Paint and Wine Lounge, at 57 Wingate St. She has participated in Team Haverhill, Creative Haverhill and the Haverhill Cultural Council through events such as River Ruckus, KidsFest, and Make Some Noise Concert Series.

Former Fox News Staff Back Sen. DiZoglio in Non-Disclosure Case; DiZoglio and Speaker DeLeo Spar

Two former Fox News personalities who sued the network’s then-CEO for sexual harassment added their voices Monday to state Sen. Diana DiZoglio’s push to restrict the use of non-disclosure agreements on Beacon Hill. DiZoglio, who during a debate on sexual harassment policies in 2018 broke the non-disclosure agreement she’d signed when fired from a job as a House aide years earlier, filed a bill this session that would ban the use of public funds for “silencing the complainant or concealing the details related to claims of sexual harassment or assault.”

“You should not be able to purchase somebody’s silence, to be able to move from one victim to the next,” DiZoglio said at a press conference where she urged the Judiciary Committee to endorse and advance the bill ahead of a Feb. 5 deadline. DiZoglio was critical of Speaker Robert DeLeo over the incident. Offering a message to her fellow legislators Monday, she said, “Your speaker lied to you and put you in a very bad position, both by unequivocally denying that he has given out NDAs for anything related to sexual harassment, when I have one from his office and my circumstances were widely publicized leading up to my wrongful termination, and also by exploiting victims’ need for confidentiality, to convince you, during a rushed and emotional debate, to allow these agreements to continue to be used by his office and elsewhere in our government.”

DeLeo’s office responded to DiZoglio’s remarks with a lengthy statement describing the process leading up to DiZoglio’s agreement and the new House rule around NDAs.

Today’s Obituaries—Jan. 27: Gagnon, Habib, Jones

Robert H. Gagnon, 83, a resident of Plaistow, N.H., for the last 53 years, died Jan. 23, at Exeter Hospital. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November of 1956, and served honorably until his discharge in 1960 as a CT-3. He was first employed as a manager for Vernon Plastics and later established his own business, New England Lamprint of Lowell, which he owned and operated for several years. He earned a real estate license and also operated Gagnon Real Estate in Plaistow for many years.