Parents, City Leaders Raise Concerns About ‘Leadership Problem’ at Nettle

(File photograph)

Disruptive behavior led city officials, including School Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. to call attention to a “leadership problem” at Nettle. (File photograph)

Behavioral issues from students at the Dr. Paul Nettle Middle School have led some city residents to send their children to private school in an effort to avoid disruptive antics, one parent told Haverhill’s School Committee last week.

Katie Bresnahan Dinges, the mother of a Nettle eighth-grader, expressed disapproval over what she called a “lack of commitment” at the school, leading to actions that hinder student growth and enrichment.

“This school is going out of control and I feel terrible. Nettle might look nice but you can’t judge a book by its cover,” Dinges said, recounting how a recent cross-country meet was canceled due to unavailable coaches. She also told Committee members how she’s overheard students use inappropriate language in the halls without consequence and witnessed panhandling at athletic events.

School Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. sympathized with Dinges, and pointed fingers at the Nettle corner office, staffed by Principal Timothy Corkery.

“It’s very clear and I don’t mind stating it publicly: There’s a leadership problem,” Wood said. “You have a building running and I’m not even sure there’s anybody in charge there.”

Corkery was not present at Thursday’s meeting, which also included a presentation by Haverhill High School on their efforts to decrease dropout rates.

According to Dinges, some parents are willing to pony up $5,000 in tuition to send their children to private parochial school Sacred Hearts just to get them out of the public school pipeline.

School Committee Vice Chairman Paul A. Magliocchetti assured Dinges her concerns were valid—and vowed to follow up with Superintendent Margaret Marotta. Said Magliocchetti: “It’s not falling on deaf ears tonight.”