Updated: Two-Person Haverhill High School Fight Brings Arrest; Special Public Meeting Monday Night

Haverhill High School Principal Jason Meland and Superintendent Margaret Marotta answer questions about high school violence during November of 2021. (WHAV News photograph.)

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story mentioned two conflicting meeting notices. School Committee Vice Chairperson Toni Sapienza-Donais has since clarified that there will be no closed-door session, but the public is invited to an open meeting Monday night at 7, in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers in City Hall.

A “fight” Thursday morning at Haverhill High School which resulted in an arrest of a female student is prompting a meeting of the Haverhill School Committee Monday night.

Both Haverhill High Principal Jason Meland and Haverhill Police used social media to confirm the 11:30 a.m. incident, involving two students. Police said there were no injuries and Meland added separately, “The situation is under control and students are safe.” School Committee Vice Chairperson Toni Sapienza-Donais told WHAV the public is invited to ask questions and offer suggestions at a special School Committee meeting Monday night.

“We’re the people the public needs to turn to if they have questions and that is why we are holding the meeting,” she said.

News of the incident, and possibly the fight itself, was stoked by a cell phone video that was distributed on social media. Sapienza-Donais acknowledged the school’s new cell phone policy was violated. “The superintendent will obviously launch the investigation and that will be looked into because there were numerous videos that were posted on social media,” she said.

In an email to parents Thursday night, Meland sought to clear up misinformation being reported on social media. He said, “To clarify, the altercation was physical and resulted in a student being removed from the building by Haverhill Police Department. While there are rumors of a stabbing on social media, police found no evidence of this. However, a knife was found on the scene and immediately confiscated by police.”

Meland added, students who videotaped the incident “face appropriate school-based consequences.”

Haverhill Mayor and School Committee Chairman James J. Fiorentini called for seizure of student phones back in November, noting their roles in aggravating behavioral problems when videos are shared on social media.

“I think we have to take immediate action and that immediate action should be that we have a policy that if a student videotapes a fight, that student loses his cell phone, his or her cell phone,” he said.

When School Committee member Richard J. Rosa found no disciplinary rules were then in place for phone misuse, members unanimously agreed to adopt such a policy. Specifics, such as how long the phone should be taken away, were left up to school administrators.

Haverhill Police said its school resource officers “responded to a fight” and “One of the juveniles was arrested for their involvement in the fight.”

The hybrid remote and in-person special meeting takes place Monday night, at 7, in the Theodore A. Pelosi Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 4 Summer St.

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