Haverhill High Students and Staff Get Journalism Lesson; School Paper Asbestos Story Misleading

Haverhill High School. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill High School students and staff recently learned valuable lessons about accurate and complete news reporting when a student newspaper article, reprinted by an out-of-town newspaper group, mischaracterized the cleanup of asbestos floor tiles.

Cody Kucker, an English teacher at the high school and advisor for the school paper, told the School Committee last Thursday some parents were concerned by the way the article described cleanup.

“In the second page of the article, there was an email sent out that said the tiles and the asbestos dust would be swept up before February vacation. One correction that needs to be made and I would like to make this publicly is that we mentioned that email was from (School Superintendent) Dr. Marotta, which was inaccurate. That is an oversight that I take responsibility for. There is no reason for alarm. The school has efficiently and effectively dealt with the issue. There is no threat to your children nor was there any malfeasance on the part of the administration.”

The Brown and Gold student article, headlined “Persistence Pays Off,” told of a high school student who, back in January, noticed some floor tiles had buckled in one of the classrooms after a pipe burst. He questioned if there is an asbestos hazard.

While applauding the students for their work on the article and the paper itself, Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti expressed his concern with the article being printed and reprinted without sufficient editorial review.

“It makes it appear as if asbestos tiles were causing harm or could cause harm to someone and it wasn’t being addressed timely, when it was. So, I have some real concerns about that and some real issues about that,” he said.

Magliocchetti said all disposal work had been performed by mitigation specialists and suggested that, going forward, Kucker and other leaders need to make a better effort at confirming the facts before printing articles, particularly ones that are certain to raise concern by parents and others in the community.

In a separate matter, Magliocchetti announced that most of the air-conditioning units at Haverhill’s elementary schools have been installed and the project would be finished in a few days. He also reported new doors for three restrooms at the Tilton School have been ordered and will likely be delivered and installed in the next two to three weeks.

Comments are closed.