Haverhill Continues to Cover-Up Timeline of Alleged High School Gun Incident

City officials continue to refuse to release the exact time a 16-year-old summer school student was first spotted with an alleged gun July 29. Information about the time staff observed what was believed to be a gun is a critical piece of determining whether Haverhill Public Schools properly responded to the threat at Haverhill High School. Unconfirmed reports suggest the student was under suspicion for more than an hour before Haverhill Police were notified. The student was arrested almost a mile away, prompting more questions about times. The City of Haverhill yesterday only partially responded to WHAV’s extensive public records requests, but promised to consider providing more information within 25 days.

Bevilacqua Draws Top Ballot Position in Haverhill Council Race

City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua drew the top spot Friday on the crowded Haverhill City Council ballot. Every two years in Haverhill, there is a debate about what role ballot position plays in an election candidate’s success, but everyone agrees it can’t hurt. One theory is voters pick the first nine names they recognize, omitting votes for those near the end of the ballot. Bevilacqua says he doesn’t know if garnering the top spot helps. “I really don’t know.

Haverhill Safety Committee Mandates 911 Calls During Threats, Recommends Security Steps

A school Safety Subcommittee is looking to beef up security at all Haverhill public schools, mandating staff first call 911 during an emergency, police officers stay at work during summer events and a security director be named. These recommendations, among others, came during a public session following a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning of the Haverhill School Committee’s safety group. Members met with Haverhill Police to discuss issues related to last week’s report of a teenager with a gun at Haverhill High School. Subcommittee Chairman Scott W. Wood Jr. said he and School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan agreed staff must be informed or reminded to call 911 before taking any other action during an emergency. Police officers at the schools, known as school resource officers, should work summers when classes are in session.

Councilors Approve J. G. Whittier School Repairs; Ask Legislators to Push State on Waiting Period

Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night unanimously agreed to a pared down set of repairs to the John Greenleaf Whittier School and asked local legislators to help cut the waiting period for state money to build a replacement. Superintendent Margaret Marotta said reducing the project from $3 million to $750,000 aims to serve students for the next five to 10 years, rather than the original plan of 30-50 years. Councilor Colin F. LePage, however, said he worries the scaled back project won’t be enough. “Are we putting enough money in here that is going to take care of things or are we going come back and there’s going to be some more, and is this going to be something that goes?” he asked. Paige Caswell, the parent who emotionally raised awareness of Whittier’s issues back in January, told WHAV she is pleased with the result. “It bothers me to spend $750,000 for a school that will eventually come down, but the fact of the matter is our kids need to be safe and there’s certain things that need to be done in there.

School Gun Aftermath: Haverhill Officials Discuss Security Issues Behind Closed Doors

Members of the Haverhill School Committee went behind closed doors this morning to meet with Haverhill Police to discuss issues related to last week’s report of a teenager with a gun at Haverhill High School. A week ago, Monday, a 16-year-old Haverhill High sophomore was arrested by Haverhill Police and charged with carrying a firearm without a license, trespassing, carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds and possession of a class E drug. As WHAV previously reported, the juvenile was one of several hundred at the Monument Street building July 29 when a security guard is said to have glimpsed him with the gun and he ran, allegedly tossing the weapon outside of campus. He was taken into custody about a mile away near the intersection of North Broadway and Broadway. City councilors last night heard some details from Mayor James J. Fiorentini and school Superintendent Margaret Marotta.

Haverhill Council Leaves Student Gun Questions Unanswered; Officials Report Missteps

There was no emergency 911 call last week when a Haverhill High student was spotted allegedly with a gun, the item may not have been a gun at all and an initial lockdown of the school was quickly halted when police reported they had the teenager in custody. These were among very few questions answered Tuesday night as Haverhill city councilors reviewed circumstances surrounding the gun-related arrest of a 16-year-old summer school student. Other key questions were overlooked and new ones prompted as Mayor James J. Fiorentini and school Superintendent Margaret Marotta stood before councilors. “I believe in this situation the SRO (school resource officer) was contacted rather than 911 being called because things happened so quickly and simultaneously that the student was apprehended almost as quickly as things were happening in real time,” Marotta told members. The superintendent explained she first learned of the incident when she received a telephone call from Principal Glenn Burns.

Haverhill Seeks Permission to Waive Bid Laws and Make ‘Emergency’ Whittier School Repairs

Haverhill is seeking state approval to waive bid laws and spend $750,000 to make “emergency” repairs to John Greenleaf Whittier School. Calling the situation an “extreme emergency,” the city argues the lengthy process of formally soliciting and awarding bids will prevent repairs from taking place before students return to classrooms. Mayor James J. Fiorentini says his administration “quickly eliminated” a consultant’s proposed $3 million renovation project. The administration explains the recent report didn’t necessarily include asbestos removal and the full project would trigger current building codes the school cannot meet. The mayor says he also had another reason. “If we did that, we would never get the state money to rebuild the school.

Efforts Begin to Chip Away at Haverhill’s 51-Year-Old Form of Government

If a recent statement by Haverhill’s mayor and the presence of a City Council agenda item this week are any indications, the city’s 51-year-old form of government could be upended in the future. The City of Lowell, settling a federal court case over the voting rights of minorities, agreed recently to end the practice of electing all of its city councilors and school committee members at large. Instead, under the terms of a consent decree, Lowell will elect all or a majority of elected seats by individual districts prior to the elections of 2021.” At his campaign kickoff, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said 20% of the city’s population is Latino and deserves representation. “Our City Council and our School Committee no longer represent all of our city and it’s time for ward councilors and I am proud to endorse that here tonight. It’s time to change our charter so that we have people elected in every ward and in every section of our city,” Fiorentini told supporters.