Student Hillies Create Voter Registration Campaign, Advocate for Local Participation

(Additional photographs below.)

In advance of the March 5 presidential primary, students from Haverhill High School put together a voter awareness campaign—recording videos with HC Media, helping their peers register, and distributing information through the school’s website and social media. The goal was to not only increase turnout for the national primary, but encourage voting on the state and local levels, according to Shaun Ashworth, the teacher whose AP U.S. Government and Politics class created the campaign. He added that the effort came out of the city clerk’s office requesting he help get young people registered. “Local elections, local politics and local matters have the biggest impact on our lives, but the turnout, out of all three levels, local, state and federal, the local turnout is awful,” Ashworth said. David Martinez, a junior who wrote most of the video scripts, said he enjoys the class, finding particularly valuable its emphasis on local politics, which he had not thought much about before.

Glenn Says Early College Delivers for Haverhill High Students; Whittier Tech Grad Explains How it Helped

As a program at Haverhill High School that makes college classes available has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, early college defenders say it is still delivering on its original promise to encourage students who may not have thought college was right for them. Last month, as WHAV reported, student council members told the Haverhill School Committee those who would benefit the most are not gaining access. Haverhill High partners with Northern Essex Community College. In their telling, high-achieving kids flooding the program have disrupted its goal to assist students who do not believe they can get into, afford, or thrive in college. Moreover, they said the schools the high-achievers want to attend do not accept early college credits.

City Council Agrees to Amend Haverhill Constable Ordinance to Follow Police Reform Law

The state’s 2020 police reform law is forcing changes in how Haverhill appoints constables— typically private individuals that serve notices locally, but have arrest powers in some cases. Haverhill city councilors voted Tuesday night to ask the city solicitor to revise a city ordinance governing the conduct of constables, as well as the application to become one. Police Chief Robert P. Pistone explained the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training commission recently decreed that any person who can make an arrest must first receive a certificate from the agency. Though they mostly deliver orders like evictions, foreclosures and subpoenas, he said constables sometimes arrest people to force them to appear before a court or in response to certain breaches of the peace. He recommended that before the mayor may appoint a constable, the city requires applicants who make arrests to have the certificate.

Haverhill Schools Face Deficit Transporting Unhoused Students, Smaller Bump in State Aid Next Year

Haverhill Public Schools is expecting to pay over $1 million to transport unhoused students to and from school, as required by federal law, through June of this year. Some students move to nearby communities—to stay with relatives or in shelters—because their families lost their homes. They still need to go to school, Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling told the School Committee last week, and school districts are responsible for getting them there. He added the same effort cost only $547,000 last year. In addition, committee Vice Chairperson Paul A. Magliocchetti said that less state funding came in than anticipated.

Federal Money For Youth Mental Health Expires Soon; Haverhill Councilors Aim to Continue Initiative

Despite money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act expiring in December 2024, Haverhill City Councilors said last night they would work to maintain a funding source dedicated to youth mental health programs.

Mayor Melinda E. Barrett said she had to fight former Mayor James J. Fiorentini to include it in the budget three years ago and wants to sustain the initiative now that she is mayor. This year, council Vice President Timothy J. Jordan said a committee will divide $750,000 among organizations that can apply during the month of March. Inviting councilors to join the group as well, Barrett said she wants to include members of the Community Development Department, who have experience accessing federal funds. In the past two years of giving out grants, she said the city hired a Boston-based firm, Anser Advisory Consultants, for help navigating the American Rescue Plan’s rigorous specifications. Compared to money coming directly from the city, Barrett said, “It is much more cumbersome.  Even [for] the school department, who got a lot of the money last round, I believe [ARPA Manager Kathleen Lambert] has been chasing people down because you have to have the documentation so we don’t get the ding in the end that we have to pay the federal government back because we didn’t do something right.”

Councilor Katrina Hobbs-Everett pointed out that, last year, the committee included some members belonging to agencies vying for the funds.

Rosa Presses Haverhill High Principals on Unsupervised Classrooms

Correction: A quotation attributed to School Committee member Mikaela D. Lalumiere is now properly attributed to member Jill Story. Haverhill School Committee members asked Haverhill High School administrators last Thursday how they ensure all classes will have an adult present when the usual teacher is absent. Member Richard J. Rosa brought up the issue after he said he received emails from concerned parents. “I am hearing that there are classrooms where a teacher may be absent, we can’t get a sub, and there’s no coverage. And so, an entire class has no adult in the classroom.

Wood Disputes Officials Would Have Known of Negative Background Check Even if Destroyed as Agreed

Former Patrolman and School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. is disputing the city’s argument that details of his negative 2013 background check would have eventually become public even if the city had destroyed its copy as agreed. In a federal court filing this week, Wood’s lawyer challenged Haverhill’s Dec. 29, 2023 request that a judge dismiss Wood’s lawsuit. Wood filed suit last October, seeking money for breach of contract, business interference that also cost him his Wenham police job and defamation by current and former police chiefs in Haverhill and Wenham. Wood took issue with the city’s charge, which WHAV reported first, that former Haverhill interim Police Chief Anthony L. Haugh and current Police Chief Robert P. Pistone would not have known about the 2013 background report had it been destroyed as agreed.

Judge Karp Says Recent Cannabis Reform Law Probably Won’t Apply to Haverhill Retailer’s Case

At an Essex County Superior Court hearing yesterday, Judge Jeffrey T. Karp said he was leaning toward rejecting Stem Haverhill’s claim that a 2022 change to state cannabis law should apply retroactively to the business’s 2018 agreement with the city. To operate in Massachusetts, recreational cannabis retailers must first create agreements with their host communities. Part of Stem’s agreement with Haverhill included certain fees to offset costs the city alleges are caused by the business’s existence. Those charges, totaling $887,488 over the past three years according to a July 2023 Stem press release, are the subject of a civil suit the shop filed in 2021. Stem owner Caroline Pineau told WHAV, “While our overriding hope was that Haverhill officials would follow the actions taken now by so many other municipalities, who have recognized that, indeed, legal cannabis presents no negative impacts, and have returned impact fee payments collected without evidence or justification, sadly, Haverhill did not do this, and the case is moving forward in court.”

Before hearing the trial, Karp asked both sides to help resolve five basic questions of law.