School Committee Approves Cuba Trip Over Wood Objection

Haverhill School Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. during a recent WHAV Open Mike Show.

Chrisi and Phil Brown.

Chrisi and Phil Brown.

A Haverhill High School group field trip to Havana, Cuba, planned during the April, 2017 school vacation week, has been endorsed by most of the Haverhill School Committee.

The committee Thursday voted 5 to 1 in favor of the field trip request, for an estimated 15 to 25 students, by Haverhill High U.S. and World History teacher E. Phillip Brown. Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. was the lone dissenting vote.

“I know some of the thinking has changed in establishing diplomatic relations. However, I’m still concerned about sending children there,” Wood said.

Wood, who requested the item moved from consensus to roll call vote, said while he wouldn’t “get into a debate about Cuba,” he had “a fundamental problem” and would not support the request.

“I still think there’s a lot of human rights violations and I simply think it sends the wrong message to send kids there. I understand the policy of our current administration and the president is different, but I fundamentally disagree with sending children to a dictatorship that continues to violate basic human rights of individuals,” Wood added.

A motion to approve the field trip to Cuba was made by Committeeman Sven A. Amirian and seconded by Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.  Mayor and Committee Chairman James J. Fiorentini abstained.

The trip, according to documents, would cost $2,990 per student, with an estimated $200 to $300 in fundraising to offset expenses. It would be open to students who are or have been enrolled in World History classes as well as being “eligible for Spanish students.”  Educational aspects, or “curriculum relevance” of the trip include the topics of “communism, cold war, nationalism-U.S. foreign relations.”  The students would also be accompanied by two school staffers and two parent/guardian chaperones.

The trip request, before the committee vote, received approvals from Haverhill High Principal Beth Kitsos, schools Supervisor of Social Studies, World Language and Culture Rashaun J. Martin and Assistant Superintendent Julie R. Kukenberger.

The trip, from April 13 to April 22, 2017, is to be arranged through Education First (EF) Educational Tours, Cambridge. It includes a first-day sightseeing stop in Miami’s Little Havana district before arriving in Cuba the following day.

14 thoughts on “School Committee Approves Cuba Trip Over Wood Objection

  1. What a bunch of small minded bigots! Your data is flawed. Where are you getting it Jack Haverhill? FOX?
    Travel to places out of our comfort zone opens all eyes on both sides.

  2. Well if people really care, then they need to make phone calls. Nothing is as effective as that. It takes 5 minutes of time and numbers will cause change. Numbers are votes. Former Councilor Mike Young was willing to lose his seat and did, in an effort to hold city leaders accountable. Sadly, not enough logical people were paying attention to his battle and the lemmings voted him out. You see, arrogant power doesn’t like to be challenged and held accountable.

    An email works as well.

  3. I urge you all email the school committee, they can still change their mind but they won’t do it witour public pressure. Let unite and try to stop helping the Cuban economy while we can take care of our own city

  4. Can you tell i’m pissed about this ??

    One more thing. Did ANYONE consult law enforcement about the DANGER in going into Little Havana in Miami ? OF COURSE THEY DIDN’T. Why do something sensible. As the Chairman of this committee, The Mayor SHOULD have been on top of this.But who is he to be anything but milquetoast and once again play the middle. What a political lemming.

    • Thank you Scott Wood, the only member that thought about this. And shame on the others members for putting children on danger. Shame on the two new member gail and Sven for being part of the liberal elite.

  5. The Mayor is a coward for not voting on this issue. Nothing different from his regular motus operendi. Take the safest route to make myself look good. hes apiece of….well…work.

    As far as going to Cuba, I agree with Duncan and somewhat with Jack. Yes, these kids WILL BE put into danger going into little Havana. And YES he is a progressive liberal. I do not get why the left is sooo enamored with Castro, the brutal dictator and murderer. But then again, the left LOVES brutal dictators. See how many idolize Guevera who was another brutal murderer. I also do not understand the school committees love of this plan. Are you people nuts ?? What possible education value will this have ? Thank you Mr. Wood. I hope Mr. Brown realizes that these kids are HIS responsibility and if anything happens it is on him AND the school committee. I guess we need to elect some NEW people on this committee -AGAIN !

  6. Any parent who would trust the safety of their child with E. Phillip Brown has to be out of their mind!!!
    This guy is an absolute liberal whackjob. This is the guy who intentionally manipulates young minds in his classes that the rich aren’t paying their fair share in this country when the FACT is the wealthy pay 98% of all taxes. In his classes he claims the poor aren’t being treated fairly by our system of government when the FACT is that the poor receive $20.00 of benefits for every dollar they pay in taxes, while the wealthy who are paying all the taxes, receive only $00.19 of benefits for every tax dollar they pay. Do parents whose kids are in classes taught by this progressive liberal nut have any idea about the lies he is promoting?

    The liability of sending students who are legally not yet classified as adults on this trip is off the charts. Sightseeing in Little Havana in Miami???? Is that a joke? It’s bad enough to send kids there in general but to do it with E. Phillip Brown is a receipt for disaster. If you need proof of how serious the risk of liability is in this situation look no further than to the one person we all know specializes in protecting his own a$$…mayor Taxman. He abstained from voting on this because by doing so he removes himself from personal and professional responsibility when something happens.

    • Amen, agree with Mr. Wood, where is the money coming from over and above the $200.00 / 300.00 Fundraiser ? We can’t afford to fix our City Roadways, yet we can send Students and Four Adults to Cuba Free of Charge !

  7. What a bunch of progressive and ideological BS. For once I actually agree with Wood.

    Cuba is still a ground zero country of repression and human rights abuse. Just because some political ideologues, including our own President, wants to press some hypocritical agenda, doesn’t mean people have to follow in jumping of the cliff with them. Student’s & parents should use something Cuba doesn’t have, Freedom of Speech, and send a big STFU to Mr. Brown.

    If Mr. Brown is so intent on going there, maybe he can use himself as an experiment to prove how faithful of a political correct progressive he is and exert the freedoms we have here, and express them down there? Maybe if he survives doing so, or isn’t imprisoned for the rest of his life, students can write about how bad ideas have consequences.