Haverhill School Committee Questions Improper ‘Open Door’ Policy at Tilton School Restrooms

Haverhill School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti. (WHAV News file photograph.)

It isn’t exactly what people think of when they hear about the school department’s open-door policy, and School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti wants to keep it that way.

Magliocchetti revealed a privacy issue last Thursday after he and Vice Chairman Toni Sapienza-Donais made a visit the week before to Haverhill’s John C. Tilton School.

“One thing that was really surprising and an issue that Ms. Donais and I are very concerned with, there are no doors on the bathrooms. Let me say that again. There are no doors on the bathrooms. Walk by, walk down the hall and you’re looking in to a kid’s bathroom. Not just one. Not two. We saw three,” Magliocchetti said.

It was not clear why the doors were removed or by whom, but there was speculation it was related to student behavioral problems. Haverhill’s Facilities Director Stephen D. Dorrance said he was aware of the issue and would replace the doors in about two weeks, after his crew installed new air conditioning units on a number of the city’s schools. He said replacing the A/C units during school vacation week has been on the calendar for some time and they are ready to go.

After the meeting, Magliocchetti told WHAV he and Sapienza-Donais visited the school the previous Friday. He said he doesn’t know why replacing doors—which, he estimated to be about a day’s job—hadn’t already been completed. He also said the missing doors were not listed on an earlier report of school building issues.

School Committee Member Gail M. Sullivan questioned the priority of air conditioners over basic privacy. “I think that’s absolutely disgusting, and I wouldn’t let my granddaughter go to a school where there was no door on the bathroom. So, we probably won’t need air conditioning for two or three weeks. So, my opinion would be doors and dignity first,” she told her colleagues.

Bonnie Antkowiak, a former Tilton principal, told the Committee there are bathrooms with doors on the second floor that students can use. She said there is also a single bathroom in the basement for school staff that could be used by students until other doors are replaced.

Asked if he could guarantee the doors would be replaced by May 1, Dorrance said they would be. The Committee eventually agreed that would be a sufficient solution.

In another matter, the Committee agreed, by a 6-0 vote, to a motion by committee member Richard J. Rosa to eliminate entrance fees to all Haverhill middle school and high school sporting events for all Haverhill students.

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