Haverhill School Chief Disputes Suspension, Expulsion Data

Haverhill School Superintendent James F. Scully.

Katrina Hobbs-Everett, co-founder and CEO of Power of Self Education (POSE).

Katrina Hobbs-Everett, co-founder and CEO of Power of Self Education (POSE).

Haverhill School Superintendent James F. Scully is disputing a resident’s contention the city is not following state law when it comes to educating students who have been suspended or expelled.

Scully reacted to data presented on Monday night’s Open Mike Show and last Thursday’s school committee meeting by Katrina Hobbs-Everett, co-founder and CEO of Power of Self Education (POSE).

“The reality is I’ve been here since 2010 and we just finished a second major review from the Department (of Elementary and Secondary Education). We haven’t been cited or anything like that,” Scully said. He explained areas where the state expressed concern in 2010 are now “positives.”

Scully said his administration reviewed reports by neighboring communities and found Haverhill compared favorably. “To the best of my knowledge, the only one that provides more data than we do—or more information—is Lawrence and, obviously, because of a variety of factors and the number of cases in Lawrence, that’s understandable,” he said.

Everett said Haverhill High School met state codes of conduct requirements in only one out of 53 categories and kindergarten through eighth grade met state rules in six out of 54 categories, and were partly compliant in eight categories and non-compliant in the remaining 40. She cited data reviewed by Massachusetts Advocates for Children and its affiliates at Harvard Law School.

“Those surveys are like the polls in the presidential election. It depends on who does them,” Scully responded.

In 2012, Massachusetts legislators mandated new requirements aimed at ensuring students who have been expelled or suspended continue to receive an education. While those opportunities are made available, Scully told WHAV, some student refuse to participate.

“Part of the reason they got suspended is they don’t want to be in school to begin with,” the superintendent said. He said such students may take advantage of “virtual learning situations,” alternative programs and a night school. In the case of shorter term suspensions—two or three days—students are provided the setting and help to make up missed work when they return. In addition, Scully said, the schools work to avoid suspending a student in the first place. “We make every effort to keep children in school.” Where safety of others is a concern, the schools will take a child out of the classroom. He said it is an “urban reality.”

Everett appeared before the Haverhill School Committee last Thursday at the invitation of President Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello. Everett’s group has been active in addressing, what has been called nationally, the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

POSE is asking for the community’s feedback on the issue in the form of survey. To take the survey in English, visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/52DTJM5. The Spanish/Español version is at: https://es.surveymonkey.com/r/8KW6KHL.

8 thoughts on “Haverhill School Chief Disputes Suspension, Expulsion Data

  1. Where does the notion come from that “those kids” don’t want to learn… where does the assumption that parents of “those kids” are “AWOL, do not care or are incapable of parenting”? What kids exactly are you all talking about? And why are their lives and educational rights so much less important that that of your own children?

    In regards to “compliance” clearly this fan club missed this article… #dontwakemeletmesleep

    • “And why are their lives and educational rights so much less important that that of your own children?” –

      Rights are equal, not more or less.

      When a disruptive child, whether it be emotionally or physically, they are infringing on others right(s) to an education. Or worse, in the case of a physical altercation, a violation of criminal law. Those disruptions take valuable resources away from the whole, teachers and students alike, by way of time spent addressing the disruptive behavior in lieu of learning/educating time in the classroom.

      I think anyone reading this knows exactly what I’m saying, short of serious psychological issues, it is the parents responsibility to instill the discipline needed to succeed in a learning environment without infringing on the rights of others. It is not the responsibility of the public, and/or society, and in this case the school/teachers to do accomplish that.

      Shirking or projecting personally responsibility unto others, no matter your ideological persuasion, is certainly not an opinion all of us share.

  2. What I want to know is…. how does everyone propose to educate a student who doesn’t want to learn? It is one thing to say the school system is not following the law, and quite something else when a school system is expected and REQUIRED to educate a kid who cares not a whit about learning ANYTHING.

    So what does Hobbs-Everett have to say about that?????? AND what would SHE do to remedy the situation? I really would like her to explain this!

    • I think that’s partially the point Scully is making: 1) Students don’t want to be there, and if so, are disruptive while they in school 2) The parent(s) of these kids are AWOL, do not care, or incapable of parenting.

      It appears Everett and company believes this is Haverhill’s responsibility (or society in general), to coddle these kids, while shirking personal AND parental responsibilities unto The Public.

      Scully is also correct about surveys (or almost anything else), they can be manipulated to have the desired outcome for whoever is paying.

      • Even four years ago when my grandchildren were at HHS, they were afraid to use (NEVER USED) the restrooms at the high school for fear that they would be isolated and another student would do something nasty to them. How awful for students to have to deal with that one! And students who want to learn are forced to put up with that??? What a distraction, and a detriment to the learning of serious students. No one can force a student to learn and to pay attention to what is going on in class. So what is a teacher to do????

        How on earth did we get to the place where even schools are forced to cater to the lowest element? You can force these uninterested students to stay in school till they are 90 years old and they will NEVER learn anything, because they don’t want to be there.

  3. Is it safe to say Maura Ryan-Ciardiello didn’t bother calling Mr. Scully to find out the facts of what is happening in Haverhill schools on this issue before inviting this special interest group to appear before the school committee? What’s that about? Does Ryan-Ciardiello have some kind of personal agenda to make Scully look bad?

    Maura, next time a special interest group with a fictitious agenda comes calling looking for special privileges show some professionalism to your colleagues involved.