Power of Self Education (POSE) Co-founder and CEO Katrina Hobbs-Everett addresses Haverhill School Committee members. (WHAV News photograph.)
The Haverhill School Committee’s Policy Subcommittee may further review findings from an outside parents’ survey on student conduct, as well as claims of a bullying problem at Consentino School.
Mount Washington neighborhood group Power of Self Education (POSE) Co-founder and CEO Katrina Hobbs-Everett presented the committee findings from its own parents survey on school safety, discipline and school to home communications, among other topics. The survey was initiated, according to Hobbs-Everett, after a committee meeting in April. While she acknowledged Superintendent James F. Scully responded to last month’s e-mail regarding the district’s code of conduct policy, Hobbs-Everett encouraged the policy subcommittee to “push forward” with ongoing revisions.
“Mr. Sully did mention that in his letter to me, stating that the school committee reviewed that two years ago, and there could be ongoing updates, if I understood that correctly. I think that’s great if there are ongoing updates, because…I submitted a document that came from Harvard Law, saying that our code of conduct was largely out of compliance,” Hobbs-Everett said.
Hobbs-Everett said based on 241 “anonymous” responses by parents, 83.4 percent of which have children in the Haverhill schools, nearly 24 percent were “extremely unsatisfied” with school to home communication while another 38 percent replied “extremely satisfied.” She also pointed out other satisfaction rates, such as 33 percent regarding disciplinary actions; 46 percent for school safety; and 35 percent in “cultural competency.” According to Hobbs-Everett, 36.2 percent of the parents’ children attend Haverhill High School, 16 percent attend John Greenleaf Whittier Middle School, 15 percent attend Nettle and 13 percent attend Consentino. Others attend Haverhill Alternative school, Bartlett or are out-of-district special education placements.
Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti, who placed the agenda item, suggested Hobbs-Everett have a follow-up discussion with the policy subcommitee, chaired by Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr.
“Less than 50 percent, across the board, were strongly dissatisfied on one reason or another. You’re going to get that. We have 8,000 kids in the schools. But I am curious to know where they fit in the demographic. Which subgroup they fall into and which school they’re part of because, without getting into the confidentiality issue, the privacy issue, we can at least identify those two components. It may be telling. It may provide us some insight into what’s going on in that particular school,” Magliocchetti said.
Wood, who was present, did not speak during the presentation. Parents of two Consentino School students also told the committee their child was either suspended for responding to a bullying incident or was a target of an alleged assault. Mayor James J. Fiorentini, committee chairman, said deterring such incidents is where the district needs to put its resources.
“And this has budget implications because, to me, these are the security issues in the schools. Not guard shacks or taking license plate numbers, things that are incredibly unlikely to happen,” Fiorentini said. “The real worry isn’t that somebody is going to drive up from out of state and get into a classroom, the real worry is on kid versus another kid in the classroom.”
Superintendent James F. Scully noted parent communications, in addition to individual school web pages, include so-called parent portals he said are expanding and growing and school liaisons have been “communicating and meeting with people.”