Safety Plans, Audit on the Way as Local Leaders Take Action in Wake of HHS Gun Incident, Student Arrest

(File photograph)

In the wake of July 29’s arrest of a Haverhill High sophomore for allegedly bringing a gun onto campus, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and local leaders are taking action, starting with Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Principal Glenn Burns (left) and Mayor James J. Fiorentini toured Haverhill High School on July 30, 2019. (Courtesy photograph)

At that session, Fiorentini and Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Marotta plan to outline existing school security measures and detail plans to hire an outside security firm to complete an audit of Haverhill High School. Plans for that audit were already underway prior to last Monday, when a 16-year-old allegedly brought a gun into a summer school session attended by hundreds of other students before being arrested off-campus.

Fiorentini said a teacher and security guards spotted the teen with the weapon before he fled the Monument Street campus. He allegedly tossed it before he Haverhill Police caught up with him on Broadway. The gun has not yet been found, the mayor said.

Fiorentini looks forward to continuing the conversation about school safety on Tuesday night. “No child should ever be in fear in our schools. With the most recent horrific national events, we need to be certain we are taking every and all precautions and measures recommended by police and security professionals,” he said.

That already in-progress review involves a police officer making sure that each school is secure and that each building’s security protocols are up to date, Fiorentini said.

On Wednesday morning, School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. has called an emergency meeting of that board’s safety subcommittee to further discuss security measures at Haverhill High.

The chairman of that subcommittee, Wood tells WHAV he’ll be joined by colleague Gail M. Sullivan, Marotta and Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro for the 8:45 a.m. City Hall session, which is open to the public. At that time, Wood plans to push for what he calls a “comprehensive” audit of all Haverhill school buildings, starting with the high school. Wood first proposed the idea of doing a top-to-bottom assessment of all building elements, like what Fiorentini plans to present on Tuesday, during a 2018 School Committee meeting.

Calling ideas like metal detectors and posted security guards a “piece of the puzzle,” Wood said a more formalized assessment is a must. Recently named to the School Safety Advocacy Council Advisory Board, Wood told WHAV he intends to lean on that group, which includes Methuen’s Chief Joseph Solomon, Sarasota, Fla., County School District Police Chief Timothy Enos and Nevada’s Clark County Police Chief James Ketsaa, for suggestions should the School Committee agree to fund an assessment.

The teen at the center of the controversy was arraigned last week in Lawrence Juvenile Court, charged with carrying a firearm without a license, trespassing, carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds and possession of a Class E drug, District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s spokeswoman Carrie Kimball said. While Kimball did not specify the type of drug involved, class E drugs may include codeine, Percocet, Adderall or anti-anxiety drugs, for example.

Fiorentini said the juvenile is not being allowed back into Haverhill High. Summer school has concluded, with the new school year scheduled to resume on Aug. 27.

Comments are closed.