HAVERHILL — An online petition backed by residents is calling for the firing of a Haverhill High staff member who was placed on leave this week, plus other actions concerning the school.

When school officials placed the staff member on leave, they said Haverhill High has "zero tolerance for sexual misconduct.'' They would not identify the staffer or give details about what led to the leave.

The employee is on paid leave while an investigation is conducted, school officials said.

Authors of the petition, who identify their group as Time's Up Haverhill, are demanding the staff member, a teacher, be fired and that Haverhill High Principal Glenn Burns, Superintendent Margaret Marotta and the Haverhill School Committee take other steps involving the school.

Those steps include: beginning an independent, third-party investigation into the history of the teacher's actions involving people connected to Haverhill High; releasing the teacher's personnel file to the public; and establishing a transparent system for people connected to the school to report any misconduct they are aware of.

The authors of the petition said they have sent it to School Committee members and Mayor James Fiorentini, who is chairman of the committee. The authors said they will attend Thursday night's School Committee meeting and discuss their demands during the public comment part of the meeting.

School officials said on Sunday that the staff member has been placed on leave. Since that time, current and former students of Haverhill High have used social media to identify themselves as having had uncomfortable interactions with the staff member in the past.

When asked about the petition and its demands, Burns, the Haverhill High principal, said school officials are carefully considering all issues involved.

"The School Department is aware of allegations made on social media concerning one of our employees,'' he said. "We take all allegations involving our employees very seriously. These matters that have been reported to us are being thoroughly and promptly investigated. We are not able to comment any further at this time without subjecting the city to potential legal liability.

"Anything that comes up at the School Committee meeting we'll (consider) and address,'' he said. "Our main goal is to make sure all of our students are safe. That's always our primary goal and we're always open to communicating with the community on that."

In an email to the School Committee and mayor, the Time's Up Haverhill group says it consists of former students of Haverhill High School — "a coalition of concerned and committed HHS alumni.''

The email also says the group has longer-range plans.

"We are working on additional demands that will, when implemented, empower students to know their Title IX rights and keep the administration accountable for its staff's misconduct,'' the group's email reads. "We are appalled by the complacency of the Haverhill Public Schools administration and hope that you are, too. We look forward to hearing your plan of action at the School Committee meeting and plan to present our petition during public comment.''

Recommended for you