Consentino Principal: Police Officer’s Deportation Remark Considered ‘Inappropriate’

Haverhill's Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Thirty-year Haverhill Patrolman Stephen Iannalfo. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The principal of the middle school, where a Haverhill police officer allegedly displayed handcuffs and talked to students about “deportation,” told parents and staff the patrolman’s demonstration could be considered “inappropriate.”

In a story reported first by WHAV, Stephen Iannalfo, school resource officer at Albert B. Consentino School, was placed on paid administrative leave Friday. Consentino Principal John Mele said a problem arose after Iannalfo was asked to speak to two classes last Wednesday about “anti-bullying.”

“During the course of the conversation, the SRO made some comments that could, by some, be reasonably considered to be culturally insensitive and inappropriate for a public school setting,” Mele wrote.

According to a parent’s complaint, Iannalfo told students they could be deported if they are inside the United States illegally and then called attention to his handcuffs.

Mele added counselors will be available to students upset about the remarks so that they may “process their emotions.” State figures show Hispanics make up roughly half of Consentino’s 958 students. Mele used his letter to “reiterate our commitment to diversity and inclusivity for all students.”

“As a school community, we welcome all students and their families, regardless of their background, culturally or otherwise,” Mele said, adding “The school is dedicated to creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all students and their families.”

In the 10 years Iannalfo as served as school resource officer, he has been called on to address students on a variety of topics from drug abuse education to gang awareness education. In an interview with WHAV last summer, the patrolman spoke of his work with the police department’s summer camp, Gang Resistance Education and Training Camp—or GREAT.

“If they’re not involved in camp here and given an alternative to hanging out on the street corners, then that’s where they’re going to be,” Iannalfo told WHAV at the time. “A lot of these kids are from challenging backgrounds, especially economically. If these kids didn’t come to camp and go with me, a lot of them would never leave Haverhill.”

Mele said Iannalfo’s remarks are being examined further by the school and police departments.

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