This is the recording of the public meeting, held at Holyoke High School, North Campus, regarding the random searches policy, on February 27th, 2020.
Dr. Stephen Mahoney, Executive Principal at Holyoke High School, met with students, teachers, parents, and community members, to listen to their feedback on the implementation of this policy.
This is the video feed, produced by Natalia Muñoz, from Holyoke Media:
As a reference for context, in a letter sent to the parents of Holyoke High School students, by Dr Mahoney, Executive Principal of Holyoke High, several topics related to safety were reported, including one referring to random searches, that reads as follows:
“10. Random Searches Beginning in the new year we will conduct random student searches at the beginning of the school day on a weekly basis. Staff will contact families by phone if their student is searched as a part of this process.”
The announcement of conducting random searches raised concerns by a number of students, teachers, and community members. These concerns made it to Dr. Mahoney, and the searches were put on hold. There have been meetings with groups of students to gather input and feedback in the past weeks, and a public meeting was held at the Holyoke High, North Campus cafeteria on February 27th, after dismissal.
Dr. Mahoney, opened the meeting explaining the reasoning for the implementation of the random searches policy, followed by feedback, questions, and comments provided by the attending students, parents, teachers, and community members.
These conversation had led to a new approach to this policy that has been summarized in a document currently circulating in the high school campus:
1. Who gets searched?
a. Random number generator –>12 students
- i. We need to establish a two-step process of identifying random 1-1100 for north and 1-270 for dean and then finding the number kid corresponding to schoolbrains (at north g acevedo is student #1)
- ii Numbers generated and applied by admin and selected school staff (staff and student input)
2. When do searches happen?
- a. One day a week, 3rd period North campus and 4th period at Dean campus
3. What gets searched’?
- a Backpacks and pockets
4. Where does search happen?
- a. Closest admin office or empty [sic] clsrm (classroom)
5. Who conducts searches?
- a. 2 admin
6. Are police involved?
Only in cases where found items have possible felony implications (drugs and distribution, weapons)
7. What are possible consequences for typical scorch items? (Family communication in all cases)
- a. Lighters confiscation
- b. Vape cartidges/pens confiscation, (THC is potential $100 fine and mandatory class via HPD). Possible Planning Center, internal or external suspension
- c. Weapons confiscation, 1 day internal/external suspension to expulsion
- d. Pepper spray confiscation, return to family
- e. Aspirin confiscation, return to family
- f. Controlled substances confiscation, safety check with nurse, and turned over to Holyoke PD. Possible Planning Center, internal or external suspension. 2nd marijuana/thc offence referred to HPD SRO for civil offence consequences ($100 fine, community service and education)
- g. How will we report on searches? Call families, regularly track and report to school community on search data (demographics of searched student- grade levels, gender, race, gpa, repeaters)
Not in a closet
No pat down
Choose male or female admin
No raffle tickets to choose- online random number generator
No confiscation of personal items (lotion, pads, condoms, tampons, heating pad/ice pack, food, etc….)
How to address students with high anxiety? Sample video
Can parents opt out students? no
Is refusing to cooperate reasonable cause to search for the future? No
Refusing to cooperate is a removal from school for the remainder of the day
A second public meeting is scheduled for March 5, 2020 at 3:00 pm, in the Holyoke High School, Dean Campus.