School Committee Gets the Bill for Class Weighting Dispute

Parent Pamela Conte discusses class rankings during a March Haverhill School Committee meeting.

The bill has come due for the recent wrangling over Haverhill High School class ranking and weighting.

On Thursday's agenda, the Haverhill School Committee is being asked to approve two warrants with a total $883,076.16 in district expenses for transportation, energy, food services, reimbursements, vehicle maintenance and supplies, among other items. A third warrant, to be voted on by consensus, would pay $1,920.50 in outside legal services regarding special education and an opinion on “school committee authority as to standards for college preparatory classes and class weighting.”

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

WHAV reported in April the legal opinion, prepared by the firm Lyons and Rogers, LLC, Rockland, determined members are already prohibited from taking action regarding how courses are weighted. The state’s Education Reform Act of 1993 removed that authority from the school committee and placed it exclusively in the hands of school administrators, said Attorney Catherine L. Lyons. Lyons made the ruling in place of City Solicitor William D. Cox, Jr.

At the time, there was debate on course weighting and class ranking between the committee and parents who complained honors and advanced placement students—representing the top 20 percent of learners—were losing class rankings to “middle of the class academically” Early College participants. Parents reported advanced students saw “drastic changes,” reducing student rankings by as much as “20 or more spots.”

School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti had challenged the ranking system at the high school.

“The Early College parents wanted to let everyone know how hard their students work in that program, what those classes are like and that they are legitimate college classes. And, I think the AP parents are trying to say, well if they are that way, then let’s compare the syllabuses, and let’s try to iron this out and make sure we’re getting this correctly,” Magliocchetti said.

Haverhill School Commiteeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Haverhill School Commiteeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

However, committeeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua said he believes the discussion should have been held in a workshop session. He said he is concerned with the well being of students at the high school.

”The success of Haverhill High School is the well-being of every single student in that system and those that are coming, and I’m hoping that we get through this, we get a resolution and that people are accepting it because of the fact we need to move together as a system and I’m very concerned that kids have felt diminished in their educational development who have taken the Early College admission program,” Bevilacqua said.

“The role and function of school committees are statutorily limited to specific duties and responsibilities which would not encompass the management of academic courses in the sense of determining the amount of weight certain courses are assigned. Such determinations are legally and customarily within the purview of school administrators, namely the superintendent and principals,” said Attorney Catherine L. Lyons.

Also, a closed-door executive session is anticipated prior to meeting adjournment, at the request of the city solicitor.

The Haverhill school committee will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday, in city council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

6 thoughts on “School Committee Gets the Bill for Class Weighting Dispute

  1. Haverhill is as Haverhill does. We have school board members who were more than happy to make decisions based on what was best for their kids, not the system as a whole. Thank God for the ethics commission.

  2. What is Haverhill doing employing a city attorney if every legal decision made in the city has to be sent to outside law firms? Isn’t the mayor a lawyer? Isn’t Magliocchetti a lawyer?

    Between three city administrators who are lawyers not one of them could have done the work to make this determination and avoid taxpayers having to foot the bill for this expense?

    • Jack, if you and almost all of the other commenters on this site see these problems, why do you suppose voters keep electing Fiorentino? Maybe, there should be independent monitors at Haverhill’s polling places. It seems unbelievable the people really are re-electing him. There seems to be scandal after scandal in his administration.

      • Gladys….that’s a great question and one that I wonder about too. There are a number of reasons…
        1. He’s bought off the public employee unions in this city. He gives them a dog and pony show resistance to their demands, but then eventually gives in. That’s what tax and spend liberals depending on all those union votes do. Look no further than when 30 union city employees conspired with each other to steal over $55,000.00 from the city and this weak mayor only fired one of them. It was a quid pro quo for their votes.
        2. Jonathan Gruber was right about the stupidity of American voters. I guarantee you that 9 out of 10 people voting for the mayor have no idea he has raised taxes by OVER 25% in just the last 8 years, or that he instituted a meals and parking tax, and that he bought a car and hired employees to drive around downtown to raise revenues by ticketing people, or that he scammed taxpayers to get Harbor Place passed and on and on. And most importantly, even for those people who pay attention…most have no idea that it was James Fiorentini who is solely responsible for the debt citizens of Haverhill have been burdened with regarding Hale Hospital.
        3. I don’t know why…but he has The Eagle Tribune in the bag. Since the company was sold they NEVER write about the incompetence of this mayor. So even if people are paying attention they’ll never know the truth about all his failures because they never get reported. Recently the mayor publicly lied during his state of the city address…something that I called Al White, Editor of the ET, to report on and he refused.
        4. He has an impotent city council that rubber stamps everything he does. Not one of them ever stands up to him.
        5. Lastly, he has no competition. Some fairly qualified people have made a run at that office, especially existing city councilors. But to win I believe all they would have to do is publicly expose the mayor’s record. But they refuse to do that….they just don’t have the commitment to tell it like it is…so the mayor continues to be able to skate along.

    • You don’t really want the mayor acting as a lawyer, do you? Every major problem in this city goes back to Fiorentini’s days as a Hale Hospital trustee–he personally oversaw the cooked books that put the hospital out of business and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in debt. With those kinds of legal “skills,” do you want him making ANY decisions?

      • Mike, you are so right!!!! Think about this regarding his ability as a lawyer. If, over many years of building a successful law practice, why would you give it away to be mayor? Sure, the pension, the going to the gym everyday at 3:30pm, the adulation of all the other tax and spend liberal nuts in this state….But more than likely it would be because you never really built a sustainable practice….and it was a grind of always chasing that next ambulance.