Sapienza Donais Frowns on Staff Working From Home, Seeks Haverhill School Committee Policy

Haverhill School Committee member Toni Sapienza-Donais filing in 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

Some Haverhill School Department employees are allowed to work from home on certain days, while others cannot—all at the discretion of the superintendent.

Toni Sapienza Donais, Haverhill School Committee’s newest member, wants the School Committee to decide the policy to ensure fairness. She is starting her first term strong with a number of agenda items Thursday.

“I definitely wanted to hit the ground running. I advertised in my campaign about my 40 years’ experience,” she told WHAV. Following her inauguration, she started visiting two to three days-a-week. “That’s where you really find the nitty gritty stuff.”

Besides setting policy about who should be allowed to work from home—and Donais doesn’t believe anyone should, she has placed agenda items about school cleanliness, violations of the teachers’ contract, summer building renovations and how to dispose of surplus items.

Donais said she learned recently one department head is allowed to work from home. “Who gets in on this?” she asked.

She also discovered during one of her school visits there is mold and mildew inside the high school pool girls’ locker room. She learned that cleanliness issues are now handled by individual school principals and not the maintenance department. When she was principal of six different schools over the years, she brought similar issues to maintenance and wonders why the policy changed.

Donais also noted the current contract requires teachers to work only a half day before winter recess, but they were all ordered to work a full day. If there are exceptions, she said, they should have been written into the contract.

Finally, Donais wants the schools to follow policy on disposal of surplus furniture and equipment. Unlike in the past when the School Committee has to declare the items surplus and take bids, “a lot of things are being thrown away that is worth money.”

The Haverhill School Committee meets at 7 p.m., Thursday, in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers.

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