Haverhill High Plans to Issue ‘Detentions’ to Students Who Walked Out in Peaceful Protest

The Sapienza Memorial Track and Field at Haverhill High School. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill school officials described yesterday’s walkout of about 200 students in support of teachers as “peaceful, organized and respectful,” but plan to issue detentions to those who took part.

Haverhill High School students, calling themselves “Students For Teachers,” left their classrooms at Haverhill High School Tuesday morning and walked out to the school track for a rally. In an earlier statement, organizers explained the students’ rationale.

“Massachusetts law prevents teachers from employing some collective bargaining practices such as strikes, significantly reducing their power to self-advocate. Therefore, a group of Haverhill High School students have started a group called Students For Teachers to help our teachers in their fight for fair contracts,” they said.

School officials, in a release distributed by Communication Specialist Joy L. Jannell, said the walkout was “unauthorized” and students did not go through the proper channels to plan a student-led event. They estimated 10% of high school students joined the protest.

“Previous protests and demonstrations at HHS have involved identified leaders and collaborative planning with the HHS administration to ensure a safer environment,” the school department said in its statement. The administration said it did not become aware of the protest until last Friday. As only WHAV reported, Haverhill High School Principal Kevin Soraghan told students and families in an email Monday that students risked disciplinary action.

School officials reported “A handful of student leaders took turns speaking to the group. The students were respectful during this time, showed support for their teachers and returned to class without incident. Students who participated peacefully in the event will receive a detention for skipping class to attend the unauthorized event per school policy.”

“Students who participated in this event did so with the understanding that they could face disciplinary actions for breaking school policy,” officials added.

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