HAVERHILL — Officials at Haverhill High School said they were unable to determine the intent of a man whose actions on Friday morning appeared to have been interpreted as threatening to a female student, which triggered the school to issue a shelter-in-place order.
The incident Friday morning outside Haverhill High School caused school officials to make an emergency call to police, according to an email from Superintendent Margaret Marotta.
The email, sent by Marotta at 10:16 a.m., said that moments earlier an unidentified man "attempted to address one of our students'' as the student got out of a car on Brook Street, which is behind the school.
Principal Glenn Burns said the modified shelter-in-place that was in effect and which allowed students to move from classroom to classroom, was cancelled about an hour after police ended their search of the area behind the school. Burns said that police did not find the man.
"The student felt as though he was following her," Burns said.
He explained that a female student who was late for school had stepped out of a car at 10:15 a.m., after parking her car off campus on Brook Street, which connects with the school's back parking lot.
"We don't know if the man did anything wrong, other than making a student feel uncomfortable," he said. "For all we know it was a neighbor. We don't know what his intent was."
He said the girl entered the school and notified a staff member, who then called security, who notified Burns on the radio and he called 911.
"At the same time the person was on camera moving off campus," Burns said. "We identified colors of clothing on camera but I could not see his face."
Burns said the man likely came from the Brook Street area.
"As far as we know he did not speak to the student," Burns said. "It was a person who made a student nervous so we responded cautiously."
He said that when the school enacted a shelter-in-place, five students and several staff members who were on the track were called into the building.
As a result of the incident, there will not be any changes to the school's security protocols, Burns said. However, students will be reminded to bring their parking passes to school and to park on campus, and not in front of anyone's driveway.
"She probably did not have a designated spot, but we don't know the exact situation as to why she did not park in the school's lot," Burns said.
Coincidentally, while the shelter-in-place was still in effect, the school's fire alarm went off.
Burns said the alarm was triggered by burnt toast in a teacher's lounge.
"The fire department arrived to disarm the alarm and around the same time, police gave us the all clear so we announced we would follow our normal day."