HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini said he plans to meet with the school superintendent and chief of police as early as next week to discuss what new safety measures can be incorporated at Haverhill High to prevent a repeat of Monday's incident, when a 16-year-old boy attending a summer school program was seen carrying a gun, according to police.
"This is unacceptable," Fiorentini said about the incident. "No matter what (the student's) motives were, people cannot bring what appeared to be a firearm into the school."
The boy was arrested a short time later by police, and charged with carrying a firearm without a license, trespassing, carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds, and possession of a Class E substance, according to police.
Principal Glenn Burns said he met with high school security guards and his administrative staff on Tuesday morning to review security measures at the high school.
"We also spoke to police about having police be more visible and we want to intermittently check all doors to make sure they are not left open or ajar," Burns said.
Fiorentini wants to discuss a number of options for enhancing school security with the superintendent and police chief; from installing metal detectors to tightening up security at the school's more than 30 entrances. He's also interested in setting up an anonymous tip line for students to use.
"We'll be looking at best practices and whatever resources are needed will be made available," Fiorentini said. "We want to put our heads together and see what's recommended so this doesn't happen again."
As of late Tuesday morning, the gun that was allegedly brought into the school had still not been located, Fiorentini said.
"The boy will not be allowed back into the school, although I was told he does well in school and is not the kind of kid they would have suspected," Fiorentini said. "But no matter your motive, if you bring a gun to school, whether loaded or not loaded, you're not going to get back into that school."
School Superintendent Margaret Marotta said that although having a weapon is in itself a threat, there was no direct threat to other students by this student and that the weapon was discovered "incidentally."
Burns said that Monday's incident was in contrast to a positive trend the high school has experienced over the past school year.
He said the high school saw a 40% reduction in overall infractions compared to the previous school year and a 70% reduction in serious infractions such as fights.
"I attribute this to staff getting to know and support our students and referring students who are exhibiting emotional dis-regulation to guidance and adjustment counselors and checking in with kids to ensure they are on track and ready for the school day," he said. "We also have a better support system in place with an increase from two to three adjustment counselors, and we're going to four for this upcoming school year."
Burns said trauma informed strategies are also being used by guidance counselors.
"This really helps support kids by decreasing anxiety and increasing engagement," he said.